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.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.