CINCINNATI Ryan Vogelsong pitches with a chip on hisshoulder, his heart on his sleeve and a cell phone chock full of inspiration.
The 35-year-old playoff rookie didnt need any extra motivationwhen he took the mound trying to save the Giants season Tuesday night, but hereceived it from dozens of sources.
Including one very seasoned (and still technically active) 49-year-old.
I got a text from Jamie Moyer, Vogelsong said. Hes likeme, a Pennsylvania guy. We were in Phillies camp together in 2010. Well stilltext each other sometimes. The guy knows a little bit about pitching.
What did his message say?
Youve been through all this. Youve been to Japan, beenreleased. I know youve been waiting for this for a long time. So just go outand get it done.
That was one of many I got last night, said Vogelsong,but that one hit home, especially.
BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants survive, force Game 4 (10 inn.)
When he took the mound, Vogelsong did what he always does.He refused to give in. He escaped a 30-pitch first inning with just one runallowed after four of the first five Reds batters reached base. Jay Bruce drovein Zack Cozart when he pulled a 2-1 curveball into right field a pitch thatVogelsong didnt second-guess.
He would only berate himself if he left a pitch over theplate. He didnt, even when the situation called for a challenge pitch. Itmeant he needed 95 pitches to get through five innings, and yes, the Giants arestill waiting for a starting pitcher to retire a Reds batter in the sixth inthis series.
But Vogelsong did not leave himself anything to regret whilesomehow matching a pitcher, Homer Bailey, who was throwing a no-hitteralongside.
All I was thinking was, Keep making pitches, Vogelsongsaid. I just knew I had to get it done. Thats it.
So now Barry Zito gets his chance in Game 4 on Wednesday as the Giants try to force a decisive Game 5. Zito's assignmentwould have amounted to a nice vote of confidence from management, and nothing more, if the Giants hadgotten swept in this series.
Now Zito gets a chance to bear the shield, and the Giants will try to win behind him for the 12th consecutive time.
We wouldnt be here without Barry, Vogelsong said. When Imout there, Im hoping first of all that we pull it out to stay alive, andsecond of all, that he gets a chance to take that ball because he deserves it.Hes been pitching well all year long. Weve got all the confidence in him.
As mentioned elsewhere, the Reds have not announced a Game 4starter. But Bailey indicated to reporters that Mike Leake would be added tothe roster in place of the injured Johnny Cueto and take the ball.
Leake went 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 30 starts with twocomplete games this season. One of those came June 29 at AT&T Park, when heheld the Giants to nine hits and a run while going the distance to beat MattCain.
So yes, the Reds have a bit of a pitching crisis on theirhands. But it must be nice when you can add a guy who threw a CG the last timehe faced your opponent.
A couple days ago, I wrote about Brandon Phillips and how hemakes the Reds go by doing so many heads-up things to help his team win. Youappreciate those things about a player when you get to watch him every day.
But maybe you also can take them for granted, too.
Which brings us to Buster Posey. He didnt take over Tuesdaynights game or turn Great American Ball Park into a pinball machine. But whenyou step back and look at the big picture, you realize that he
--Had one of the Giants three hits (and three of the team's 12 hits in the series)
--Scored the tiebreaking run.
--Caught five pitchers masterfully in a tied or one-run gamewith a season on the line, and
--Had both the awareness to know Phillips was trying to takethird base in the first inning on a ball to the backstop, and the talent tomake a tremendously difficult throw look easy.
Vogelsong said he was yelling at Posey to let him know thatPhillips, who was running with the pitch, had taken off for third base.
I dont know if he heard me, or anyone, really, Vogelsongsaid. It was really loud out there. I just know he came up throwing and made agreat play.
Posey said he was a little surprised that Phillips keptgoing, but I also know hes aggressive and he was running on the pitch, soyoure anticipating it.
Phillips might make the Reds go. But Posey put a stop to it.
I thought it was a rather obvious move to let Brandon Belthit in the 10th inning after Posey and Pence singled off Broxton.For one, Pence was hobbling with a cramp that couldve turned into a pulledmuscle if he pushed it. And Posey is no burner, either. It would have taken agreat bunt just to advance them, and Belt hadnt been asked to put one down allseason.
Belt struck out, but who knows? He might have bunted into a doubleplay.
Ive always said this: When you have one of your betterhitters up there, you dont want to take the bat out of his hand," said Bochy.
Yes, Bochy just referred to Belt as one of his betterhitters. Consider Belt freed.
The other interesting managerial non-maneuver in the 10thwas Dusty Bakers decision to let Joaquin Arias hit after a passed balladvanced the runners. Sergio Romo was on deck.
Baker is sure to catch some flak for that non-move afterArias ground ball led to a run. But Im not sure you want to load the basesand have Jonathan Broxton out there aiming pitches with no place to put thenext hitter.
And that next hitter wouldnt have been Romo. Bochyconfirmed what Baker had to know: you would have seen pinch hitter HectorSanchez, the last position player on the Giants bench. And then, whether theGiants took the lead or not, it wouldve been Tim Lincecum on the mound in the 10th.
Yes, we really did get within a whisker of seeing Lincecumenter a save situation in a playoff game.
Bochy referred to Lincecum as his safety valve, and saidhis presence is what allowed him to go to his bullpen early and not try to pusha sixth inning out of Ryan Vogelsong with his pitch count at 95.
Not only did the Giants benefit from Lincecum's presence, but they didn't have to use him. So if Zito isn't right early, and the signs are usually affixed to bottle rockets, expect Lincecum to peel off his gray hoodie right quick.
Despite throwing four innings between them, Jeremy Affeldtfired just 22 pitches and Romo threw just 15. So both should be available forGame 4, Bochy said.
The Giants had Posey and Romo in the postgame interview roomat the same time. Major League Baseball has speed-typing stenographers in theroom to crank out quote sheets for reporters, and Romo had smoke coming offtheir keyboards.
At one point, Romo used the phrase balls to the wallscenario, which tickled Posey to no end. He had to swallow a laugh andcouldnt stop smiling. Finally, he pointed to the stenographer and mouthed Didyou get that?
Before winning Tuesday night, the Giants were 2-8 in elimination games during their San Francisco era. Their previous "staving off" victory came in the 2002 NL Division Series with a deciding Game 5 against Atlanta.
They need two more here to stay alive.