EXTRA BAGGS: Vogelsong for Cy?

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EXTRA BAGGS: Vogelsong for Cy?

ST. LOUIS Ryan Vogelsong adheres to the same philosophy every time he kicks and deals:

I just try to pitch like its 0-0 all the time, he said.

He needed to use his imagination in the latter stages ofthe Giants 15-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

The offense, and Marco Scutaros seven RBIs, will make the 3Dleap off the boxscore. But Vogelsong provided the base of the pyramid yetagain. Its been astounding how consistent hes been all season. Its now 19out of 21 quality starts, and he hasnt failed to complete six innings once.

What do you think? From All-Star snub to Cy Young Awardwinner?

Im not sure if Vogelsong could be considered a favorite atthe moment, although he does own the lowest ERA in the NL among qualifiedstarters, at 2.27. There are some who will argue Aroldis Chapman and CraigKimbrel merit serious attention, and they have a case.

I, for one, would preferto vote for a worthy starting pitcher. But Im not opposed to relievers winningthe award if they are having a truly dominant, impact season.

Chapman hit a bump or two in July, but his numbers are justso ridiculous, and the Reds are playing so well by shortening the game to sixinnings, essentially, that I think he might be my choice if I had to fill out aballot right now.

But Vogelsong man, you look up after a start likeWednesday night tough lineup, on the road, only three strikeouts in seveninnings and you wonder how he kept the Cardinals off the board. How did hekeep them from doing any damage?

Here's one big reason: Vogelsong has held opponents to a .143 averagewith runners in scoring position. Hes allowed just 15 hits with a runner atsecond or third all season.

But the Cardinals didnt even get many opportunitiesWednesday.

So what went right?

Well, I felt we had a really good game plan going in and Iwas able to execute, he said. I was able to make pitches, and on the fewmistakes, I got lucky. They were either fouled off or they took them.

Then there was Brandon Crawfords play in the fourth inning.Its hard to argue that one defensive play saved the game when the final scorewas 15-0. But at minimum, Crawford kept the Cardinals from making it a 2-1score. And if he doesnt make that play, Vogelsongs inning goes fromtroublesome to taxing. Maybe the whole game changes based on that play.

And what a play it was: Crawford made a diving stop of David Freeses grounder tohis right, scampered quickly to his feet and delivered an alarmingly firm throwto first base. He didnt try for the short force. Thats how much confidenceCrawford had in his arm.

It was hit pretty quick, so I didnt really have time tothink whether it would get through, Vogelsong said. It was definitely a playIve seen him make a lot, so for him to make that play wasnt a great shock. Heplays a great shortstop. And the way we swung the bats, I just felt like I wasalong for the ride again.

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More on Crawford: He had 11 total chances, and tallied sixassists and five putouts. As mentioned in the Instant Replay story: Following arough start that included a dozen errors in the first two months, Crawford has committedjust one error in his last 39 games.

That game he had defensively is one of the better gamesIve seen at shortstop, both going to his left and his right, Giants managerBruce Bochy said. And that play, thats a big out right there. That gives apitcher so much more confidence. That lifted Vogey, really. He was starting tolabor.

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Even after taking a 15-0 thrashing, the Cardinals 99 rundifferential remains the best in the major leagues.

That must be small consolation after the Giants handed theCards the worst shutout defeat in history between the two longstandingfranchises. The loss was also the worst shutout defeat by a defending WorldSeries champion since the 1926 Pittsburgh Pirates were beaten 16-0.

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The Giants flip-flopped Marco Scutaro and Ryan Theriot, withTheriot moving down from second to seventh in the order.

Seeing how Scutaro had seven RBIs, that was a move thatworked OK.

Bochy said he talked to Theriot, who is in a bit of alull.

Theriot hit .307 in June, .282 in July and was batting .192in six games this month. Hes been playing as much as anyone on the club notnamed Melky Cabrera, and its fair to assume the Giants will be able to resthim more often once Pablo Sandoval returns in a few days.

Theriot said his elbow has felt mostly good and he hasntrequired any follow-up cortisone injections since he had one in late April.

Scutaro is hitting .347 in a dozen games since joining theGiants.

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Sandoval remains on track to start his rehab assignment forSingle-A San Jose, likely on Friday. He ran the bases aggressively and lookedunencumbered as he busted it from home to third.

A shirtless Bochy raced alongside him for awhile beforebench coach Ron Wotus reminded him that MLB Network cameras were on the field,and its always open season for pregame footage on the irreverent IntentionalTalk show.

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Dont look now, but Brandon Belt has three consecutivemulti-hit games for the first time in his career.

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Jose Mijares will be used as a one-inning pitcher and notstrictly as a left-handed specialist, Bochy said.

Thats OK with Mijares, who sounded gleeful to escape KansasCity and join a first-place club that includes several fellow Venezuelans. Hesaid he knew Pablo Sandoval and played against Gregor Blanco and Marco Scutaro.

Its a good group in here, said Mijares, who speaks prettygood English.

Mijares said he likes to throw his slider to left-handers.As for his overall pitching philosophy?

Strike, strike, strike, he said.

He said he wasnt able to make his scheduled flight from KansasCity on Tuesday night, but caught another and was in the ballpark at the firstpitch. He admitted he was a little nervous when he warmed up in the sixthinning.

No stretching, no nothing, he said.

He ended up not being used. His break-in outing came a nightlater, and in a 15-0 game. If it were any more of a low-pressure situation, hedhave been weightless. (Which I can assure you is NOT the case.)

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Santiago Casilla threw 15 pitches off a bullpen moundWednesday afternoon and was available, Bochy said. In case you were wondering.

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What a great night for Giants pitching prospects. Lefty MikeKickham threw seven no-hit innngs for Double-A Richmond against Harrisburg.With 105 pitches, the game was turned over to the bullpen and the combined no-nobid got busted up in the eighth.

Meanwhile, Kyle Crick looks every bit like the high-ceilingarm the Giants envisioned when they drafted him last year. He struck out 10while allowing three hits and a walk in 6 23 innings for Low-A Augusta. The19-year-old Texan has 97 strikeouts in 87 13 innings.

And last I looked, Joe Panik was 4 for 4 and had hits inseven consecutive at-bats for Single-A San Jose as its game went to extrainnings Wednesday night.

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.

“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly. 

A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.

The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”

Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said. 

Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch. 

“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson. 

The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon. 

“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said. 

His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles. 

“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”

The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.

Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed. 

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

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AP

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-31) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)

Giants (27-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)