EXTRA BAGGS: Perplexed Vogelsong will start again, etc.

September 17, 2012, 1:27 am
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PHOENIX Ryan Vogelsong wants an answer.

Is it something in his mechanics? Is he tipping his pitches?Does he need to change his sequences or throw fewer fastballs in two-strikecounts or rub a rabbits foot?

I dont know, said Vogelsong, after the ArizonaDiamondbacks cuffed him for seven runs (six earned) in 3 13 innings Sunday. Idont I dont know.

RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- D'backs 10, Giants 2

Vogelsong has a 10.31 ERA over his last seven starts. Thisone included the numbers 3 13 (as in innings) and seven (as in runs allowed,although one was unearned).

This one also included a three-run triple to an opposingpitcher, Patrick Corbin, who was hitting .071 entering the game.

First things first: Giants manager Bruce Bochy has no plansto rest Vogelsong or push him back or make any other kind of adjustment to therotation.

Every time he goes out there, I feel good about whatsgoing to happen, Bochy said. Hes having his down period but hell come outof it. His stuff is too good. Hes one of our guys. Ill have all theconfidence in the world in him.

So what went wrong Sunday at Chase Field?

He just worked a little too hard and his pitches caught upwith him, Bochy said. Obviously, he made a mistake to the pitcher. But thegood news is his stuff is good. Im encouraged with his stuff. Hes going to befine.

Vogelsong agreed that his stuff is fine. He did not agreethat the pitch to Corbin was a mistake.

Heater up and in, Vogelsong said. It wasnt even astrike.

Upon close inspection of the replay ... Catcher Buster Posey gave Vogelsong a target and ifVogelsong missed, it was by an inch or two. The pitch was on the black, if itwas a strike at all. Corbin turned on it almost like he knew it was coming.

And you had to wonder did he? After all, Vogelsong heldArizona hitters to a single and a walk while striking out five the first timethrough the lineup. Upon a second viewing, they were 5 for 7 with two walks andsome hard contact.

It jogged mymemory: When the Giants got the stuffing kicked out of them here at Chase Fieldin a three-game sweep to begin the season, there were some grumbles aboutwhether the Diamondbacks hitters were getting tipped off.

They were on every pitch, one Giant told me at the time.

I asked Bochy if Vogelsong was tipping anything Sunday.

No, I think its just more he made mistakes there, Bochysaid. He worked hard the first couple innings. Hes just got to back off. Ithink hes going a little too hard here. Its human nature.

Especially when the answers are so elusive.

Really, the only pitch I missed location was on (Justin)Uptons first double, said Vogelsong, referring to the two-run drive high offthe center field wall in the third.

Vogelsong continues to hit 92-93 mph with consistency. Buthes throwing more straight fastballs, and fewer pitches with sink and cut. Hehasnt had confidence in his cutter in recent starts the pitch that broke somany bats two springs ago and got him noticed as a non-roster invitee.

The balls coming out good, Vogelsong said. Thats whythis is getting perplexing because the stuffs there. It doesnt make sense tome right now. I feel healthy. I feel strong. Im just not getting results.

The Giants continue to lead the NL West by 7 games with 16to play; their magic number shrank to nine after the Dodgers lost in extrainnings. They will have tough decisions to make soon regarding the playoffroster and rotation, and its becoming obvious that Barry Zitos star hasrisen. Perhaps Vogelsong, who has much more experience pitching in relief,could make the roster as a long man and piggyback Zito, allowing Bochy to havea quick trigger if he doesnt like what he sees from the left-hander.

But the Giants have a 10-game homestand to glean informationbefore they begin to set up their rotation on the final six-game road trip. Nodecisions need to be made now.

The only call to make now is whether to keep giving Vogelsong the ball.The intense right-hander has one answer, at least.

Ive been on the other side when youre looking over yourshoulder every day, the 35-year-old said. So it means a lot.

Beyond that, its all faith and trust.

Its got to (change), Vogelsong said. I dont see how Ican keep throwing the ball the way I am and getting the results I am. Ivegotta keep fighting through it. Itll turn around. It has to.

Angel Pagan exited in the sixth inning because of lower backstiffness, Bochy said. Its something he has dealt with before and he isexpected to be in the lineup on Monday, the manager said.

Gregor Blancos left shoulder is responding well totreatment but he remains questionable to play Monday. The Giants will face left-handersin the Colorado series Tuesday and Thursday, and its likely that Xavier Nadyshamstring will be improved enough to start for those games. But what will theydo against a right-hander on Monday if they dont have Blanco?

They could play Brandon Belt in left field and Buster Poseyat first base, but then theyre weakening themselves defensively in at leasttwo positions and many will argue three, in spite of Hector Sanchezs recent solidplay behind the plate. Im not sure compromising the defense is a good idea athome behind Madison Bumgarner, when theyre more likely to win 3-2 than 8-7.

Justin Christian, who started Sunday, was 0 for 3 with awalk. Hes now in a 1 for 39 slump and has gone hitless in his last 24 at-bats. His last hit was July 22: a pinch single in the 10th inning off the Phillies Jeremy Horst.

So yes, Christian needs a slumpbuster in the worst way.

Dan Otero struck out Upton on three pitches and Jean Machi looked good. The rest of the fresh horses in the Giants' 14-man bullpen? Not so much.

In other major league news, Omar Vizquel had two hits and isnow one short of matching Babe Ruth (2,873) on the all-time list.

That is staggering. In the minor leagues Vizquel got the batknocked out of his hands. He cried himself to sleep, he was so frustrated thathed never learn to switch hit. When he made his big league debut, nobodynoticed. It was opening day, 1989, and some smiley kid named Ken Griffey Jr.made his debut that same day in Oakland.

Now, more than two decades later, Vizquel not only set astandard for grace and excellence at shortstop. He also learned to hit, andhit, and hit. And now hes one more from matching Babe Goshdarn Ruth.

Cant wait for the Hall of Fame speech.

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