SAN FRANCISCO – Buster Posey has had better nights in the big leagues.
Posey missed a tag on Jason Heyward even though the throw arrived at least 10 feet in front of the runner, and although the Giants lost 5-0 to the Atlanta Braves, that misplay in the sixth inning was a clear turning point at AT&T Park Tuesday night.
It totally deflated Ryan Vogelsong, who allowed a two-run deficit to double before he could walk off the mound in the sixth. And it deflated a Giants offense that otherwise has maintained plenty of comeback fight in the late innings this season.
They managed just five hits against lefty Mike Minor and Co. as the Braves won for the first time in five games against the Giants this season.
It was a bit of revenge for Braves fans, who are still complaining about Game 1 of the NL Division Series in 2010 when Posey appeared to be out on a stolen base attempt before scoring in what became a 1-0 victory for the Giants. They didn't have instant replay then. They do now, and the Giants' challenge on Posey's tag was swiftly denied.
Starting pitching report
In all probability, Vogelsong (1-2) would’ve thrown his fourth consecutive quality start if not for Posey’s missed tag. Vogelsong matched his career high with eight strikeouts, buzzing a 91 mph cutter on the hands of right-handed hitters and taking advantage of a generous zone to freeze them with curveballs on the outer fringes.
It only took two spins through the Braves lineup for Vogelsong to collect those eight strikeouts. He only paid for one mistake through the first five innings: a fastball over the plate to Evan Gattis, who stroked it to Triples Alley to score Freddie Freeman from first base in the fifth.
It was one of few fastballs the Giants have thrown Gattis in five games against the Braves this season – and he probably won’t see another one.
Then came the sixth inning. Heyward led off with a line single to right field and tagged up on Justin Upton’s deep fly out to center. Freeman followed with a single to right and Hunter Pence came up throwing. The ball beat Heyward to the plate by at least 10 feet, and maybe more. But Heyward tried a late hook slide and Posey, while in front of the plate, missed on his attempt at a high tag.
Here is the irony of the catcher collision rule: In the past, Heyward wouldn’t have been compelled to slide and perhaps Posey’s high tag gets him in the chest.
Plate umpire Ed Hickox got the call right but the Giants challenged anyway, since it involved a potential score change and it was the sixth inning.
It only took 35 seconds for the Giants’ challenge to be denied. They are now 6-3 in replay challenges this season. You didn’t need replay, though, to know that Hickox made the correct call. Posey’s non-reaction told the whole story.
Vogelsong let down from there. Gattis walked, then B.J. Upton and Andrelton Simmons hit RBI singles to make it 4-0. Vogelsong was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth. All four of his runs were earned, but not deserved.
David Huff, making his first appearance since being activated from the disabled list on Monday, allowed a run in two innings and has instant replay to thank for it. He covered first base on an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play but the Braves challenged the call and replays showed that Huff’s foot missed the bag. A run scored on the play and the inning continued.
At the plate
The Giants mustered just three hits in 6 2/3 innings against left-hander Minor (1-2), who is just starting to rediscover his form after beginning the season on the disabled list.
Pence had two of those hits – he doubled in the first and sixth -- but was stranded both times.
Even Bob Uecker could see that Posey missed the tag.
The Giants announced 41,546 paid, and they were involved in the most confusing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in baseball history.
The game operations staff started the music after the Giants turned their 6-3-1 double play to end the top of the seventh, but then came the Braves’ challenge. The song trailed off before the peanuts and crackerjack, and the inning resumed when the call was overturned.
The crowd took it from the top when the inning finally ended.
The Giants and Braves wrap up their three-game series Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park. Madison Bumgarner (4-3, 2.83 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Julio Teheran (2-2, 1.71). First pitch is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. PDT.