Kruk & Kuip: Bochy hung in there with Vogelsong and got a win
CHICAGO – The Giants had to cajole Ryan Vogelsong to take an earlier flight ahead of the team Wednesday, giving him a fighting chance at a full night’s rest ahead of Thursday’s series opener at Wrigley Field.
“I don’t like to go, no,” the right-hander said. “I feel we’re all the same. I feel if we all gotta play like that, then we all gotta play like that.”
Vogelsong smiled. “And then you have that thing, `He should pitch good because he left early.’”
Vogelsong did not pitch well. He did not feel well. And his teammates, who arrived at their hotel near 1 a.m., couldn’t have been at their energetic best while playing an 11 a.m. game by their body clocks.
But the most rewarding victories are the ones that require you to rise from the canvas, to reject the forces of gravity and dig just a little bit deeper.
The Giants dug all right, coming back from a 5-0 deficit for a 7-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs – their largest comeback victory in nearly five years.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants 7, Cubs 6]
“I can’t say enough about what these guys did today,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “A tough travel day, it’s cold, going on little sleep … It’s easy, down 5-0, to lay down. I tip my cap to those guys because they kept grinding and they got it done.”
Vogelsong allowed five runs in his first start and his follow-up looked to be a lost cause after the Cubs went up 5-0 in the first three innings. And the Cubs were the rested team, all snuggly in their beds after Wednesday’s game against the Brewers was postponed four hours before the first pitch.
But a series of mental and physical mistakes (try not to be shocked!) opened the door, and a series of smart plate appearances helped the Giants score a four-run fourth inning and then take the lead with three more in the fifth.
“After that, the last thing you want to do is keep stinking it up,” Vogelsong said.
There was nothing off-putting about his final three innings. Vogelsong retired the final 10 hitters he faced to earn the victory, even if he’s not sure what kind of adjustment he made.
“I wish I could tell you,” Vogelsong said. “I didn’t feel all that great after that. It was, `just keep throwing the ball and hopefully things change,’ and it did. They started hitting the ball at people."
Vogelsong wore short sleeves in the 40-degree weather, and even eschewed the jacket when he spent a long time on the bases in both the club’s long innings. (It was a three-hour, 50-minute game even with no weather delays.)
He might take an earlier flight when asked. But he won’t be persuaded to add a layer.
“Vogey wears what he normally wears, doesn’t matter how cold it is,” Bochy said.
Said Vogelsong: “I just like to stay at the same temperature.”
He was running hot tempered after that four-run third inning, which included Anthony Rizzo’s two-run home run but only one other hard-hit ball. Did he have to resist the temptation to wonder what the heck was happening?
“No, I did it,” he said. “I even asked (Dave Righetti), `What the heck is going on?’ I didn’t feel that comfortable on the mound. I didn’t feel like I should. I’ll just hit the video here and look at stuff, try to tweak some things.”
To win without your best stuff, to fuel a comeback when you’re short on energy, to be productive when you’re battling through a nagging injury – those are the things that separate good and great players.
The Giants, after last season, believe they have a lot of great players.
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“Our team’s got a lot of fight in us,” said Sergio Romo, who made it 6-for-6 in save opportunities by striking out Starlin Castro and Rizzo to strand the tying run in scoring position. “We try to win every inning and we believe we can win every game, we really can. It’s hard to do, but that’s what we try.”