Tonight's game was 5,000-mile maintenance: tire rotation & balance, brake check, fluid check, and oil change. Ryan Vogelsong's line left a smile on your face like one you'd get after the mechanic tells you, "Shoot, this baby's got 200,000 miles on her if you take good care of it." This game was a relief.
That the Giants should have a game like this against the Padres says a lot about the 2012 season: it has been nothing short of fantastic. The most hair-raising part of this game came in the sixth inning, when Brandon Belt and Xavier Nady made fielding errors. Hair-raising not really because it left the door open for the Padres to come back and time the game, either; mostly because the fan base and media presume some players are being scouted to determine their roles in the postseason.
Brandon Belt did not help himself tonight. Didn't hit, couldn't tag the runner on a bad throw by Brandon Crawford, airmailed that play in the sixth into left field, didn't hit. I mention that he didn't hit twice because he grounded out weakly and struck out swinging with a runner in scoring position. Oh Brandon Belt. Sweet, gangly, see-through spandex-wearing Brandon Belt. Will you never learn?
You see, the car's running great. Everything's fine. But the driver, see, the driver is getting tired of the car in some ways. It doesn't have the horsepower he thinks he needs and its lines aren't as sharp as he'd like them to be. But the car has served him well. The car as a whole suits him perfectly. It's a car he's put a lot of time and effort into maintaining, so, why not appreciate it for what it is?
Why not appreciate that Buster Posey is amazing? Let's all do that (again). He took a ball to the throat tonight. That was awful. That was having the President over for dinner and watching the Secret Service have to give him the Heimlich after he chokes on the pot roast you made. How embarrassing. How potentially disastrous. And I daresay he shan't be coming back for dinner.
Posey took it in the Adam's apple but he also gave it to Petco's walls. A double after his third-ever triple and he's starting to get some separation from Andrew McCutchen in the Best Batting Average Award race. And then they intentionally walked Buster Posey. The San Diego Padres gave Buster Posey the Barry Bonds Treatment. Huntquis Grence obliged them by grounding out weakly and the strategy worked out. But, holy cow, folks: Buster Posey got the Barry Bonds Treatment. If that doesn't speak to his value, I don't know what does. Oh, right, a lot of other important numbers.
Still, the other numbers are more important for national recognition. The Giants, though, don't really care for such things. It's actually pretty easy to argue that Bruce Bochy is doing what he thinks is best for the team by pairing Hector Sanchez with Tim Lincecum, weakening his team's offense and defense in the process. As much as he wants his guys to feel confident, he wants to feel confident about them. He can't just look at the numbers and be confident. It's certainly reasonable to criticize him for not being that way, but he is who he is and that's that. You can show the driver the fuel economy, the safety ratings, the performance tests, etc. but ultimately it comes down to comfort and preference.
I'm sure Bruce Bochy's confidence in Ryan Vogelsong spiked after the tough righty's performance tonight. His last start in San Diego (this game) was a big deal because it was proof -- DEFINITIVE PROOF -- that he was broken -- BROKEN, I TELLS YA!. As I said then, Vogelsong has been unlucky (BAbip normalizing, perchance?) and maybe he's lost his two-seamer for now. He still had trouble with the curve (topical!) tonight ("I call the one that hit Buster American Throatbanger!" -- Ryan Vogelsong's id) but the velocity and command were all pretty well where they've been this entire season. He had a quick third inning and managed to escape the Brandon-Xavier clusterthrows in the sixth. He did get some help from Petco against Chase Headley, though, and he definitely left two hanging what the hell was thatballs in Cameron Maybin's wheelhouse that Maybin somehow missed -- TWICE, but he survive all that and put up a quality start!
Oh, and you'd better believe I'm eyeballing most of this. There's still definitely the issue of control and perhaps pitch sequencing, but overall I'm pretty confident that Ryan Vogelsong can handle a playoff start; at least, I'm a lot more confident in him than I was a month ago. Let's hope Bruce Bochy thinks the same way. I'm sure he does. What else is he going to do? It's not like the Giants have an abundance of starting pitching on which to rely.
So, despite the Brandons disappointing and Scutaro leaving the game for being under the weather, a great tune-up for the Giants tonight. And what's the best part of any maintenance service? The free car wash. It's not every night we get to see something so shiny and fantastic as this, Angel Pagan acting like a diva:
(hat tip to the always reliable @gidget)
This is a diva twist that could launch a thousand Tyras. Marvelous.