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Giants sweep Brewers, start new winning streak

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Joe Panik hit a dinger, Ryan Vogelsong was excellent, and the bullpen held off the Brewers.

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

It doesn't matter that Ryan Vogelsong is a great story, fan favorite, and occasional postseason hero. The second it looks like his abilities have diminished, fans will turn. They won't boo or be outwardly hostile. They'll turn in that between-me-and-you-and-everyone-else kind of way on the Internet, on the radio, or at a backyard barbecue.

Between you and me and everyone else, I don't even know why the Giants re-signed this guy. I mean, I like him, but ...

Heck, they already did turn on Vogelsong like that in May. It's not just him, it's every player. There will be a statue of Tim Lincecum in San Francisco one day, but there was a healthy cross-section of fans who were a-ok with him leaving after last season. For logical reasons, mind you. Your favorite player will become a bummer if he sticks around for a season too long. Even that guy. It's so easy to ignore the past and wonder why a player is employed in the present. Probably because when you're counting up the wins that'll happen in the future, the past doesn't mean nearly as much as the present.

Let this Vogelsong start, then, be a shining example of why he's here, why he still makes millions of dollars to throw a baseball. He's had better starts statistically (against the Marlins) and he's struck out more of the batters he's faced (against the Rockies), but this was the quintessential Vogelsong start, the one that they'll play on a loop in the little theater at the Vogelsong Hall of Fame. His command was on, and his stuff was crisp. That's it, that's all you need for a quintessential Vogelsong start. What a contrast from the off-command soggy starts from April.

The best example was in the first inning. With one out, Khris Davis tripled, which put Vogelsong in grind mode. Here's a picture of the MLB Gameday setup:

gameday

The fuzzy border is supposed to represent the strike zone. After allowing that triple, Vogelsong threw 12 pitches. Only one of those was anywhere in the middle of the strike zone. The other 11 were either touching the fuzzy border or out of the zone completely. In April, that one in the strike zone was hit 450 feet. In May, it was ignored in favor of the near-dozen excellent pitches he executed.

He even pitched through two borderline strike calls to Ryan Braun, who eventually swing through the exact same pitch as a tacit admission that, yeah, those were probably strikes.

braun

Here's the plot of the pitches when the Brewers drove in their only run, in the fourth inning:

brewers

Was Vogelsong blameless for that run? Not really, considering that he went outside the entire at-bat, possibly becoming predictable, and that he doesn't have a 95-mph fastball or 80-grade change. Combine the two, and you'll get hitters making contact and finding holes. But that's why it's the quintessential Vogelsong start. The materials aren't necessarily expensive, top-shelf materials. But with the right workmanship, the final result can still be magnificent. You can find imperfections if you look, but why would you look?

Turns out that Vogelsong still might have a future in a big league rotation. After the last two seasons and the first month of this season, I was pretty convinced I'd never suggest as much again. And then Ryan Vogelsong came back from the dead. Maybe one of these days, we'll remember that his career is undead and that we should fear it.

★★★

I made a GIF!

It is a deceptive GIF and it repeats a theme that I've been repeating since the last time you grew tired of me repeating it. Joe Panik reminds me of Bill Mueller, and this homer rekindled that comparison for me. Panik will never be a power hitter. But he has a chance to be a very, very good hitter. With the chance to be a very, very good hitter comes a few balls that leave the yard every year because the swing is that good.

Walk rate is up. Isolated power is up. Defense is holding steady. Runs the bases well. He seems like he might be a long-term solution at a position that's been a little unstable over the past few years. This seems like a good place to mention that the Giants signed Dan Uggla 308 days ago. And here we are, 308 days later, talking about the long-term potential of a second baseman who could/should be around for a long time.

★★★

Carlos Gomez bunted against Sergio Romo with two strikes because he knew that doing anything else was going to make him look even sillier. I wrote 300 words about that, and then I deleted them because that sentence contains it all.

Carlos Gomez bunted against Sergio Romo with two strikes because he knew that doing anything else was going to make him look even sillier.

And you know what he's thinking? "At least he didn't make me look like a total spaz out there." Striking out on a foul bunt was something of a moral victory. After the preseason started with tender-elbow concerns, I wasn't expecting Romo to be in a groove like this for a while. Certainly not the first half. He's been getting better as the seasons has gone on, too.

★★★

Hey, another recap where it's safe to ignore Santiago Casilla! All he did was his job, real boring-like. Don't even need to bring it up. Just doin' his job.

My favorite Casilla factlet right now: The Giants haven't lost one of his blown saves since he became the closer. They've lost games in which he was brought into a tie game, sure. But he's blown two saves since taking over for Romo, including the postseason, and the Giants won both of those games.

You should probably appreciate Santiago Casilla more. I know I should.