Vogelsong leaves struggles behind
SEATTLE -- It could be said that Ryan Vogelsong pitched as if he sought redemption after enduring a rough month so far. Some might suggest that he responded to perceived pressure, needing a strong outing to build his case for staying in the Giants' starting rotation if or when Jake Peavy and Matt Cain return from their respective injuries.
Or maybe Vogelsong's 6 2/3-inning contribution to the Giants' 7-0 Interleague victory Thursday night over the Seattle Mariners simply was a representative sample of him at his best, duplicating numerous performances he has delivered since joining San Francisco's rotation in 2011.
Regardless of what drove Vogelsong's effort that prompted the Giants' Major League-high 11th shutout, it was a welcome change from his previous June outings. He lost all three of them while recording a 6.61 ERA. This followed Vogelsong's excellent May, when he went 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA in five assignments.
Vogelsong insisted that this game differed little from his previous three, despite the run differential. He yielded only three earned runs in six innings on June 1 against Pittsburgh, compromised himself with "a couple of stupid mistakes" June 7 at Philadelphia, then threw what he admitted was "kind of a clunker" against Arizona last Saturday, when he surrendered four runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Nothing was radically different this time, Vogelsong maintained. "I was just looking to throw a good one," he said. He accomplished that by asserting himself immediately. Nelson Cruz's first-inning bloop single was the lone hit Vogelsong permitted until Brad Miller and Willie Bloomquist singled on back-to-back pitches with two outs in the seventh. Javier Lopez relieved Vogelsong and coaxed Dustin Ackley's groundout to end the threat.
"You know how hard Vogey works and how passionate he is on the days that he pitches. You don't want to let him down," said Lopez, who has stranded 28 of 31 inherited runners.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy pointed out that four of Vogelsong's six strikeouts came on called third strikes.
"That shows you how good his command was," Bochy said.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon, who managed Vogelsong when both were with Pittsburgh, wasn't overly surprised.
"I felt Vogey, and I know Vogey very well, settled down," McClendon said. "We gave him an opportunity to settle down and he started hitting his spots. When he's hitting his spots, he's pretty tough."
Vogelsong denied that he was influenced at all by the specter of Peavy or Cain forcing changes in the rotation when they complete their injury rehabilitation assignments.
"Hopefully I'll get on a nice little run and we'll see what happens," Vogelsong said.