Ryan Vogelsong pitched the worst best game of his career. I don't think he'd argue that point. He allowed two hits in 6⅔ innings, but he was off. Every count was a full count. Every batter started with a full count, like he was being punished by a manic principal adding on an hour of detention every time he opened his mouth. Grind grind grind. Mitt sets up here, ball goes there. Mitt sets up there, ball goes here. It was tortuous.
It was effective. It was the kind of game that a pitcher gets when a good team plays against a bad team. That's a statement that requires you to admit the Giants might be a good team. I don't know, man. They could be. Remember when baseball used to be fun? When the bad teams used to come into AT&T Park and expect stuff like this to happen? It's happening again, and the Giants stringing you along. I'll let them.
I'm a fan of the pitcher's duel. Give me 1-0 games, in which you feel a smidgen of terror after every ball is put in play. Coors Field and 10-9 games are for apostates and bad people. The thick pudding air of AT&T Park suits me just fine, and the fewer runs the better. Except for the first six innings, this was the worst best pitcher's duel in recent memory. It was the argument against pitcher's duel. It was a scoreless game by default, as if the only reason neither team could score was because they were 60-year-old uncles playing Nintendo to humor you on Christmas and holding the controller upside-down.
Soldier: What should we do about this tape of the Vogelsong/Collmenter pitcher's duel?
Minister of Pitcher's Duels: Burn it.
Scrub the evidence. This does not help the movement.
For all that, though, there was a point where Vogelsong snapped into place. In the top of the fifth, he struck out the side. In the sixth, he got three quick outs. It wasn't all grind grind grind. There were some moments of subtlety mixed in.
By the end, though, he was gassed. Henry Schulman noted that Bruce Bochy talked to Vogelsong before making the final call, possibly to ask him how he was feeling. Feels bad, man. But he did plenty, considering. The odds of Vogelsong making it into the seventh at all were probably at 10 percent after the first two innings of grind grind grind. Maybe less. There's something about him making it out clean on the other side that makes this especially sweet.
I was expecting Bochy to leave him in. Let the veteran earn his win, grumble. Except Bochy made the tough, correct call. It was obvious at the time and even more obvious in retrospect. But it wasn't a call that Bochy usually makes. Feels like that positive behavior should be reinforced.
You've earned it, Bruce. You've earned it.
The Diamondbacks have six hits over the last two games. Joe Panik was hitless tonight, so he's one behind. Keep the faith, Joe.
The rally, annotated:
Hunter Pence walked1, Gregor Blanco doubled him in2. Travis Ishikawa struck out3, but Brandon Crawford beat out an infield hit to put runners on the corners4. Matt Duffy feigned interest in a bunt before doubling home a run5, and Angel Pagan hit a sac fly to seal the game6.
1 Hunter Pence is second on the team in walks. Seems like that's weird. Brandon Crawford is first. Buster Posey is third, with Pablo Sandoval right behind him.
Brandon Hicks is fifth, which ...
2 It was about a month ago when the calls for Blanco's head were at their loudest. "Forget the previous 800 at-bats. This guy is the antonym of winning, and he needs to be released." So weird.
This tweet describes the at-bat well:
Now THAT was a sequence. Blanco argues called strike 2, then smacks ump Gorman in mask with foul tip, gets run home with double. #sfgiants
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) September 11, 2014
3 Nope. Still not used to Travis Ishikawa on the Giants in 2014.
4 Crawford's playing well again. He's not Jimmy Rollins in his prime. He's not Johnnie LeMaster. He's Jimmie LeRollins, for better and worse, often better. The bad times at the plate will fade as quickly as the good times. That will leave just the defense, which is usually rad.
5 For all of the rookie love for Joe Panik and Andrew Susac, I've been a little upside that Duffy hasn't had his time to shine, either. He looks like a ballplayer from the days when they took trains from city to city, like he should have an old-timey nickname of Crab Lips Duffy or Grandpa Stink, and I desperately want him to succeed. Mid-round, unheralded draft picks are the best kinds of found money.That was a nice at-bat.
6 Angel Pagan is made up of wins and losses. He is both and neither. His presence means wins; his absence means losses. He is an oxymoron, a savior and non-believer. It's right there in his name.
The stupid Dodgers won, but at least they're stupid. The Giants needed to win the series against the Diamondbacks at home, and they did. It's probably a good idea to get greedy.