Tony Cingrani is a talented young pitcher. He's also having a slightly dismal season, at least relative to expectations. If you're making a gigantic, 16x16 bingo card of baseball before every season, "getting demolished by a talented pitcher having a bad season" would have to be on there. "Oh, look, Wade Miley is having a bad season. Good thing he's appearing in this series!", you say like a fool. Then he dismantles your team.
This was supposed to be that game. Cingrani throws a fastball, primarily, and the Giants can hit a good fastball. For six innings, the Giants could not hit a great fastball. I'm sorta obsessed with him, even in the middle of his struggles, and he was vintage Cingrani, even if that's an oxymoron for a pitcher in his early 20s. It was a tip-your-cap game. Man, I hate those.
Then there were dingers.
Sweet, sweet dingers. There had been only one over the last three games, and there was an off day mixed in. Did you miss me, dingers? I missed you. There's something about the ball flying over the fence that makes me feel all warm. I just want to break into a cover of David Lee Roth's cover of "California Girls," but replacing every "girls" in the lyrics with "dingers." A little soft-shoe mixed in, spinning around, just singin' an ode to dingers.
Duane Kuiper brought up Morse as the biggest difference in the clubhouse this year, as his home runs "light the bench up." The Giants were moribund until the home run, and then magic happened. It was a little ex post facto reasoning, and us statistically inclined smart people just know what to do about that.
Except, I'll see your ex post facto and raise you an appeal to authority. Kuiper's seen, what, at least 6,400 games as a professional player or broadcaster? I wouldn't dismiss the claim out of hand. Remember, the smart argument isn't that clutch hits or momentum don't exist, but that humans aren't tuned finely enough to make accurate judgment calls on them. Dunno, maybe 20,000 hours of baseball gets a guy there, and Kuiper's right. Maybe that invisible force of Morse is working, of course.
I won't argue passionately in favor of the dingers = momentum theory, but I'll admit that I feel it, too. When Morse hit the homer, I thought, yeah, now they have a chance. The Giants have been fantastic with the well-timed homers this year, and it feels different. Maybe it's the part where the home runs become runs, and those runs help the team win. Just spitballling. But I feel the momentum of dingers, too, especially in the come-from-behind scenarios. It would be nice if that weren't hokum. I want to believe.
Also, it is my belief that home runs help the ball clubs that hit them, and that is my opinion, and it is something I believe.
There are three varieties of Vogelsong. Learn them well.
There is The Artist, the maestro, the true perfectionist. It's cliché to compare any control maven to Greg Maddux -- do you realize how brilliant that guy was? -- but it's not cliché to compare pitchers to the 40-year-old version floating around Southern California. That guy was still an artist, and Vogelsong at his best is like that guy at his best. Corner, corner, corner. Curve in the dirt, curve in the dirt, curve in the dirt.
There is The Grinder. The pitchers on the corner are there 60 or 70 percent of the time, but the difference between Artist and Grinder is noticeable. There are a lot of deep counts and more than a few runners. There are crises; there are diffused crises. The Grinder might throw seven scoreless, or he might give up four runs in five innings. He usually keeps the team in the game, though.
There is The Pirate. In which sinkers go over the plate, breaking balls don't break, and we all say "Aw, raspberries" a lot.
Tonight was The Grinder. It's a spectrum, of course, and there were shades of The Artist. It took a few fortuitous bounces and events to keep the Reds at two runs, though, so I'll stick with Grinder. I'll be honest; I thought it was The Pirate all the way down. The rererenaissance of Vogelsong continues to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the last few years.
There was a point in this game where a recap like this was going to be about Billy Hamilton, because the Giants had absolutely no idea what to do with him. It's like they played on a rock in the middle of the Galapagos Islands, completely unaware that other people played baseball with stolen bases, and when they made their first road trip off the rock, it was absolute panic time.
No, wait, the Giants were like a horribly anxious fast-food manager trying to get ready for the regional manager's visit.
He's coming in five minutes, people! Everyone, make sure their stations are clean OH GOD I BURNED MY HAND WITH THIS HOT OIL keep it together keep it together. Okay, we need to make sure this goes off smoothly because WHY IS THERE A FRY BASKET ON MY FOOT. THAT SHOULD NOT BE THERE.
He's coming in five minutes, people!
It's just Billy Hamilton, you morons. He's not a game-changer if you don't screw up everything within 50 feet of him.
There was an another episode of Votto vs. Lopez, which my favorite serial programme on the BBC these days. Joey Votto is one of baseball's greatest hitters. He can't hit Lopez. He's now 0-for-8 against him with two walks. Lopez hasn't had the most scintillating season, at least by his standards, but he pitched Votto perfectly. Fuzz on the outside when Votto was looking for ... dunno, fuzz on the inside?
They don't have video for me to gif just yet, so I'll have to make do with ... wait, lemme see if I can find a GIF ...
Hold on, there has to be something somewhere ...
I just know there's something worth putting here.
Ugh, this is like having an actor or song title on the tip of your tongue, and you just can't do it.
Let's see, if I had to think of a Votto/Lopez encounter to reference here, it would be ...
Dang it, so frustrating. There should be oh wait that's right I remember the GIF and I found it and here it is.
Edit: It wasn't Votto in Wednesday's game, it was Jay Bruce. This was a stupid mistake. If it were less stupid, I would have just deleted this passage. Instead, it was so stupid, it has to live here for eternity, a monument to my stupidity.
Look at that GIF, though.