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An appreciation of Ryan Vogelsong, postseason hero

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This is Ryan Vogelsong's sixth postseason start for the Giants, which is a sentence we all expected to read, back in 2009.

Thearon W. Henderson

If you needed a reminder, and you probably didn't, take a deep breath before Game 4 and appreciate the unlikeliness of Ryan Vogelsong. He was gone, now he's back. This is year four of the grand Ryan Vogelsong reimagining, which was supposed to last for a few months, not unlike the Todd Linden reimagining. Todd Linden was on the Giants' Triple-A team last year. Did you remember that? Probably not. That's what should have happened to Vogelsong, except he's still here, pitching postseason games.

Also, Travis Ishikawa is the starting left fielder.

But it's Vogelsong's day, for better or for worse. I didn't give him much of a chance to finish the season in the rotation, but he did it. I didn't give him much of a chance to make the postseason rotation, but he did it. I didn't give him much of a chance of succeeding in his postseason start against the Nationals, but he did it. I would stop doubting Vogelsong, but at this point, I'm superstitious. He probably eats our doubts and poops out our hopes. It's how he sustains himself and his fury.

Before the game, it's probably worth a look back at the postseason starts in Vogelsong's Giants career:

1. 2012 NLDS, Game 3

The Giants were facing elimination on the road, and they started Vogelsong because the other options were a partially broken Tim Lincecum and a full-zitoed Barry Zito. They couldn't have felt great with Vogelsong, considering he had a nine-string start of pain starting in August and going through the first half of September (nine starts, 7.95 ERA), but his last three regular-season starts were outstanding (one earned run, 17 innings). They just wanted to get to the bullpen with the game intact.

Results: Five innings, one run, three walks, five strikeouts.

Classification of Vogelsong start: Grinder

Did the Giants win? Yes.

2. 2012 NLCS, Game 2

Wait, how did we get here? Didn't the Giants just lose the first two against the R ... well, whatever, the Giants were in the NLCS against the stupid Cardinals who won the first game of the series. There was no way the Giants could come back in another series, so this one felt extra important. Vogelsong was good in his previous start, but he was a grinder. Sometimes the grinding didn't work. Everyone's nerves were grimbly and such. It felt like the Giants needed that danged game.

Results: Seven innings, one run, two walks, four strikeouts

Classification of Vogelsong start: Artist

Did the Giants win? Yes.

3. 2012 NLCS, Game 6

The Giants were facing elimination again, and the delirious high of winning the Barry Zito game to escape St. Louis only lasted so long. This was easily Vogelsong's best postseason start.


He struck out the side in the first on 93/94-mph fastballs, included a patented Posey "laaaater" on the called third strike to the last batter of the inning. It was as good as he can pitch. It's why he's a millionaire, depending on how much he's blown on collectible stamps and 18th-century Florentine furniture.

Results: Seven innings, one run, one walk, nine strikeouts

Classification of Vogelsong start: Artist

Did the Giants win? Yes.

4. 2012 World Series, Game 3

Hey, the Tigers could have come back. They could have won Game 3, and Bochy could have panicked and done something silly like not start Ryan Theriot at DH, you never know. Getting blown out in Game 3 would have shaken the Giants just a little. The Giants scored two runs off Anibal Sanchez, which is probably some sort of record, and they need Vogelsong to be perfect. He was ... imperfect, but the Tigers still couldn't score off him.

This at-bat is the Sliding Doors moment of the Series, I believe:


It's more up than I remembered it -- not a good swing. Still something that Cabrera can bludgeon, though.

Results: 5⅔ innings, zero runs, four walks, three strikeouts

Classification of Vogelsong start: Griiiiiinnnnnderrrrrrrr. Good gravy.

Did the Giants win? Yes.

5. 2014 NLDS, Game 4

I didn't want the Giants to go back to Washington. You didn't want the Giants to go back to Washington. The Giants didn't want to go back to Washington. The plane flight isn't too bad -- just above Oregon! -- but the thought of facing Jordan Zimmermann again, with the season on the line? Nope. That would have been a mess.

Results: 5⅔ innings, one run, two walks, four strikeouts

Classification of Vogelsong start: Artist. He was throwing hard, and the only reason he didn't make it through the sixth was because Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth clobbered a pair of outs to open the inning, Javier Lopez was warm, and Adam LaRoche was coming up. It was a good decision by Bochy, but it wasn't a true grinder start because Vogelsong had thrown only 81 pitches.

Did the Giants win? Yes.

Five postseason starts. Five wins. Lots of snarling. Delicious enchiladas. A couple more wins would be dandy, and it starts with one more win against the Cardinals. I'll doubt Vogelsong on Wednesday, but only because he wants me to.