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Giants drop opener, Vogelsong drubbed again

Thearon W. Henderson

We're about a fifth of the way through the season. Three of the five starting pitchers are broken. The Giants are somehow tied for first place. Think of how ludicrous that sounds. Between September 5-24, 2010, the Giants allowed 21 earned runs in 18 games. It's not like that was anything we were supposed to get used to, but it was an easier reality to accept than this.

If you're coming here for answers, I'll hope that you'll be polite and leave quietly when my back is turned. Because you'll find no answers here, weary traveler. Besides, do you know how annoying it would be if I thought I knew what the mechanical problems befalling the Giants' pitchers were? This site would be nothing but 1,000 words on release points and hip rotations three out of every five days. I know my jokes get tiresome, but …

Because that's what's going on here. It's the guy from The Graduate taking you aside and whispering the word mechanics to you. I'm not sure if the mechanical problems are being caused by poor health or poor form, but where pitchers like Vogelsong want to throw the ball on the edges of the strike zone, they're throwing the ball to the middle of the strike zone. It might be a problem that can be fixed with a good bullpen session, or we might be in the first part of a season-long death spiral.

/cracks beer

Think of it like a soap opera that will thrill and surprise us! Can't wait.

I'm less worried about Cain than Lincecum and Vogelsong, but we'll focus on Vogelsong for now. Here were his inning-by-inning stats going into Thursday:

1st inning 6.0 4 6.00 25 4 8 3 7 2.33 .320 .393 .440 .833
2nd inning 6.0 2 3.00 24 3 6 0 8 .250 .250 .375 .625
3rd inning 6.0 5 7.50 25 5 7 4 4 1.00 .280 .400 .560 .960
4th inning 6.0 3 4.50 22 3 5 1 8 8.00 .227 .261 .545 .806
5th inning 5.2 12 19.06 28 10 13 3 0 0.00 .464 .515 .750 1.265
6th inning 3.1 2 5.40 14 2 5 1 2 2.00 .357 .400 .571 .971
7th inning 2.0 0 0.00 6 0 2 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667

And in the fifth inning tonight, he was dismembered again. What does it mean? Nothing, everything, something, a few things. No idea. Probably nothing.

Think about what it means to be a major-league pitcher, though. That is, a major-league pitcher good enough to earn millions of dollars every year. That money is being paid to that pitcher because he can precisely execute a chain reaction of commands between the nervous and muscular systems. He can do this better than just about anyone in the world. It's a symphony that can get ruined if there's a single cello string tuned to Mota flat.

And for pitchers in their mid-30s, it has to be easy for things to get irrevocably screwed up somewhere in that precise chain reaction. The body doesn't bounce back like it did; the flexibility becomes more of an issue; the energy cells burn quicker. It's not a matter of working harder if the younger version was already a highly tuned professional athlete. Vogelsong was already a pitcher without a lot of margin for error. If, for whatever reason, his body is betraying him now -- even by, like, five percent over last year -- this could be the beginning of the end that will eventually come.

Or it could be a blip that's fixed with a bullpen session and a skipped start.

I'll end with a shitty analogy. Early yesterday, the Darkness song "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" came on the radio while I was driving.

You might hate the song and/or the band if you're a music snob, but it's my karaoke jam. It has been for years. And the first time I got to the chorus, I couldn't hit the high note like I used to.

You might think this is where the analogy breaks down, how I spent the first part of the post discussing just how amazing and unique major-league pitchers are, and how technically amazing they have to be just to be one of the 2,000 or 3,000 professional pitchers in the world, yet now I'm comparing it to the way a 35-year-old MacBook warrior sings a song in his car.

Except I don't think you understand how damned good I was at this. It's not my fault there wasn't a professional league set up to compete in it.

I don't know what happened to my vocal chords between the last time and now. Hopefully it's just a blip. And if you don't think that I'll do side sessions to improve, you don't know how sad I really am. I'm 35, though. One day that note just isn't going to come.


But I'll keep a rockin' until they drag me off the imaginary stage?


Yeah, not sure how to end with an optimistic note, or how to wrap it up without further embarrassment. Aging sucks. That's the main point. Hopefully this Voglesong thing isn't too related to age. Just a mechanical tweak. Plant foot or hip rotation or arm slot or something. It's past time to worry about Vogelsong, though. Last year's NLCS might have been a dead-cat bounce. If it was, at least it was immaculately timed.

Look at us, getting all maudlin. Vogelsong will be fine, dammit. HE WILL BE FINE. This is a blip. I've talked myself into blip.

If he could just unblip soon, that would be swell.