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Vogelsong pitches, Bumgarner hits, Giants win

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The Giants picked up their second shutout of the week, so it figures that Madison Bumgarner would be involved somehow.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

In the first inning of Tuesday night's game, Lance Lynn got an out with his very first pitch. He then struck Matt Duffy out on three pitches and ended the inning by getting a ludicrous outside strike call against Brandon Belt. Lynn had command, he was missing bats, and he had a wide strike zone. The only logical response for Giants fans was to make a cartoonish GULNK sound while swallowing really hard.

In the first inning of Tuesday night's game, Ryan Vogelsong threw 10 pitches to the first batter. His command was spotty, and he wasn't getting the same call that Lynn got against Belt. He threw 30 pitches in the inning and got exactly one swinging strike. The cartoonish GULNK was gone, replaced with a salty monologue from Deadwood.

You saw how this game was going to go. The Giants were the teenagers having sex in the first act of a horror movie, and it was going to be a predictable waste of time.

What a twist! Vogelsong ended up being fantastic, giving the Giants six innings they desperately needed. Don't forget that the Augpocalypse isn't just about facing good teams, but it's also the lack of off days. The Giants don't have one until next Monday, and a quick exit for Chris Heston, followed by one from Voglesong, would have sucked some bullpen juice out of the Giants before the Matt Cain start.

He did it the old-fashioned Vogey way: grindgrindgrind. Do you know how many inside pitches he throw to left-handed hitters?

vogie

Exactly none. Grindgrindgrind, cornercornercorner. He did come inside to right-handers, but only with front-door movement.

vogey

Fastball away fastball away cutter in fastball away. Grindgrindgrind. It wasn't working in the first inning for whatever reason, but he was vintage Vogelsong after that. More than that, he looked like a pitcher who was doing what he wanted to do, which has been a rare creature lately, at least with the right-handed starters. Heston has been throwing a ball dipped in chicken fat, and he has no idea where it's going. Cain is having trouble throwing strikes, right until until he throws several NO NOT THERE strikes. This was Ryan Vogelsong playing a Ryan Vogelsong set. No covers, no surprises.

And it's hard to see what Matt Cain can do tomorrow to convince everyone that he's preferable to a steady-as-she-goes Vogelsong. There are ways for Cain to more valuable than Vogelsong. He has a ceiling that the grindgrindgrind isn't usually going to offer. But the first few slides of Cain's "Why I should stay in the rotation" Powerpoint presentation were nude vacation photos accidentally slipped in, and the presentation needs a miracle to bounce back from that. I'm rooting for good things! There's a safety to Vogelsong right now, though ...

Don't forget that this was supposed to be the Mike Leake game, too. It was the third one that Leake's missed, and a loss would have stung. Giving up a prospect just to have the old fifth starter stink the joint up is no kind of fun. Instead, on a gloomy, rainy, Pence-free night, Vogelsong did exactly what he was supposed to.

★★★

It's not just you. Since Chris Heston's eight-pitch first inning against the Astros on August 12, here's how many pitches every member of the rotation has thrown in their first innings since:

Vogelsong: 28
Cain: 18
Peavy: 20
Bumgarner: 18
Heston: 16
Vogelsong: 30

And don't forget that Bumgarner threw a 20-pitch first in the game before this stretch. The Giants have been doing a lot of things well. Getting through the first inning while keeping you awake? Not one of them.

★★★

You are Bruce Bochy. There are two outs, and it's late in a one-run game. The opposing pitcher throws fastballs 85 percent of the time. While a rally would be great, a big ol' dinger would be even better.

You have four pinch-hitting options:

Ehire Adrianza
Juan Perez
Andrew Susac
Mystery box

Susac is probably the best option, but he comes with risk. A foul ball off Buster Posey's mask could lead to Adrianza behind the plate, so it's best to save that for emergencies.

Inside that mystery box, though, is a large man with a higher slugging percentage than Hunter Pence and Matt Duffy. It seemed crazy at the time, like Bochy was being too clever by half ... but, no, that was the correct play. Assuming that you didn't want to burn Susac, Bumgarner is better in that situation than Perez, certainly, and probably better than Adrianza. Given over 500 at-bats, I'm still guessing that Bumgarner isn't even a competent Triple-A hitter. He's a folk hero, and the small samples (along with the minimal scouting attention paid to him) are great, but I'm still skeptical.

Against a tiring fastball-first pitcher, with the idea being a violent, dual-cheek swing? Bumgarner, every time. It made sense. It shouldn't -- it says more about the Giants' bench than Bumgarner's talent or Bochy's acumen -- but it was hard to find fault with, considering the alternatives.

Also, because I spent a half-hour looking it up: The last Giants pitcher to get a pinch-hit was Kirk Rueter (!) in 2004, but that came on a perfectly placed bunt. Before that was Allen Watson in 1996. It's been 20 years, then, since a skipper sent up a pitcher to pinch-hit with any conviction and had it work.

My favorite part during the hilarity of the seventh inning, though, was Mike Matheny.

Lance Lynn: /falls behind pinch-hitting pitcher who can't hit breaking balls

Mike Matheny: This is not a problem.

Lynn: /gives up hit to pitcher

Matheny: This is not a problem.

Lynn: /walks next batter, throwing nothing but fastballs

Matheny: This is not a problem.

Lynn: /walks next batter, throwing nothing but fastballs

Matheny: Ugh, FINE. Jeez.

Matheny: /walks to mound with piece of toilet paper stuck to shoe

He was trying to give Lynn a chance to win, wasn't he? Oh, man, finally, some karmic payback for that stupid strategy. This was an egregious example, though. Lynn didn't look right against Bumgarner, and he certainly didn't look right against Blanco. Really, that kind of managerizing deserved a Matt Duffy dinger to really sting.

★★★

Update: The Giants now have 16 shutouts on the season, putting them just four behind the San Francisco record. That record was set in 1968, though, so it barely counts.

The only seasons ahead of or tied with this season in shutouts:

1. 1968 (20)
2. 2009 (18)
2. 1976
4. 2010 (17)
4. 1978
4. 1967
4. 1965
4. 1964
9. 1989 (16)
10. 1960

There's still a chance that this is the pitching staff that sets the team record for shutouts.

Man, can this sport drink.

★★★

The Giants did not trade for Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline. They did trade for 2011 Sergio Romo, though, and it was the best deal they've made in a year. I'm at 120 pitches right now, so I'll have to go into more detail tomorrow. But Romo is suddenly amazing again.

His new special guest star, Josh Osich, is pretty neat, too.