PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 16: Cuss yeah! Marco Scutaro #19 of the San Francisco Giants makes a play on a throw in the dirt in front of a sliding Adam Eaton #6 of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 16, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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The Giants were due for a letdown of some kind. They did win another road trip, though.
But, my goodness, that was a bad game. That was, perhaps, more than a letdown, because it appears that Ryan Vogelsong has gone kerplunk. I know even less about pitching mechanics and analyzing stats than Grant, JT Jordan, and walrus man combined, but I can see that Ryan Vogelsong has been bad in his last seven starts. Just plain bad. Today was a bit better because he looked okay in the early part of the game (6 Ks), but everything went kerplunko in the fourth inning.
And what a fourth inning. Arias error. Then a strikeout. Then... wow... Cody Ransom -- which I typed eight times as Cody Random before getting it right -- doubles. Intentional walk. Patrick Corbin, the pitcher, triples, because of course a pitcher hits a triple off a Giants starter (he went 2-4 with 4 RBI. ::cries::). That's just the way the baked goods have deteriorated for the Giants this season. If I'm reading this right (and it's possible that I'm not) pitchers were hitting .224 off Giants pitching coming into today's game. Good grief. I don't know what to make of that stat and I don't want to try to make anything of it. Just stop that, Giants starters. Though, it's not like Corbin hit a 400-foot bomb.
I'm talking about all this stuff without really addressing the fact that Ryan Vogelsong could be kersplat. The magic regression dust or career genie that led him to be the Giants most reliable start of the past two seasons appears to have worn off. It's a little unexpected, but not all that surprising, but it's also not crazy to think that this is just a really, really, ridiculously bad string of starts that don't portend to a career crashing and burning (again, if you're being really mean about it). He did not look terrible. He just didn't look like he could put anybody away. Except, he did put people away with regularity. He racked up a high pitch count and that was likely more of the problem than his stuff. Long pitch counts lead to long innings leads to frustration leads to mistakes or brainlock. Fatigue be real, yo. Just because we don't have a metric for it, we're human beings and we know it's there.
What is pretty clear, though, is that he needs better command of a breaking ball. A curveball, a slider, something that moves and moves sharply. His changeup and two seamer can float a lot, but thrown in the right order are effective that way. But he doesn't really get a lot of called strikes with the other pitches. He might be going through a phase where he's lost the feel for some of his arsenal, but just from where I'm sitting he doesn't look like he's falling apart. He just doesn't look sharp.
So, let's pull some hair, sure, because Ryan Vogelsong is getting smoked, de-pantsed, bombed, humiliated, exsanguinated, flustigated, etc. of late and that's not a good thing to see as our favorite baseball team marches towards a (possible -- nothing's been clinched yet!) playoff berth. Get it out of your system. Have a go of it. I'm going to look at the first three innings (and, really, some of the fourth) as a sign that Vogelsong is slowly moving in the right direction. Then, I'm going to hope that he does a cram session or unearths another genie's lamp or something and gets his act together fast.
Now let's wash some of that painful Vogelsong discussion away with some adulation for Buster Posey. That strike 'em out, throw 'em out in the first inning was magnifimarvelfantasticulous. A fantastic throw. A great catch by Marco Scutaro (who I love!), too. And then he added to his impressive second half offensive numbers. He really, really is worthy of our valuable time. Let's talk about Buster Posey instead. Isn't he great?