NEW YORK – Even when his fractured finger was mending for a three-month chunk of the season, Ryan Vogelsong’s $6.5 million club option looked like such an automatic decision.
Maybe it still is. Maybe that $300,000 buyout is starting to look like a nice escape hatch.
Vogelsong’s dogged and inspiring career renaissance always will be a part of Giants lore, but it doesn’t mean much to an objective scout in the stands. And almost any scout would tell you that Vogelsong’s fastball isn’t worth much these days.
He didn’t even wait until the fifth inning to leak oil this time. The Yankees harassed him for three runs in the third and light-hitting Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run shot in the fourth – doubling his home run total for the year – as Vogelsong struggled to record outs in the Giants’ 6-0 loss at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
Vogelsong got by on guile when he could while allowing five runs in five innings. He struck out just one – and has an alarming seven strikeouts over his last five starts.
He still seems to find a way to hold onto a lead when provided one, but the Giants had too many empty trips against right-hander Ivan Nova – and more and more, those soft spots in the lineup are coming from the middle.
Cleanup man Buster Posey is (2 for 29) on the road trip, and his woes predate it. He entered Saturday with just a .322 slugging percentage since the All-Star break. (It was .536 before the break.)
After losing the first two at Yankee Stadium, the Giants’ streak of three consecutive series victories is at an end. (It’s the first time they’d done that since they beat the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers last October.)
The Giants are 33-46 on the road with one more game to play Sunday. They’ll need a victory to close out a winning trip.
They haven’t had a winning record on a multicity road trip all year.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong mixed his curveball, slider and change as much as possible, but there was no hiding a fastball that started at 89 mph and didn’t have much action.
He threw 30 of them, just 13 for strikes, and only one – a pitch to Curtis Granderson in the second inning resulted in a swing and miss.
The Yankees didn’t even foul off too many fastballs – just four of them – while putting six into play.
It’s not like Vogelsong was tuckered out by the time he got to the third inning. He threw just 10 pitches while retiring the side in each of the first two, although he needed a diving catch from Gregor Blanco in left field and another out at the warning track.
Trouble started with a blooper from Mark Reynolds, then another single from Brendan Ryan and a four-pitch walk to No.9 hitter (and former batterymate) Chris Stewart.
With bases loaded and no out, Ichiro Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly and Stewart took second base when shortstop Brandon Crawford didn’t cut off the throw from center fielder Angel Pagan. That turned into a run, since Alex Rodriguez followed with a grounder up the middle and Crawford, with no force available at second base, had to make a running throw to first as a run scored.
Robinson Cano followed with a single that scored Stewart to complete the three-run rally.
Vogelsong gave up the rest of his runs in the fourth when Curtis Granderson singled and Nunez, who had two homers over his last two seasons, connected for a shot into the left field seats.
Guillermo Moscoso got a little bit of work. He allowed Alfonso Soriano’s 17th home run in just his 52nd game since the Yankees acquired him from the Cubs in July.
It was Mike Kickham and Jake Dunning the rest of the way.
At the plate
The Giants managed six hits, including Brandon Belt’s blooper that Soriano could have tracked down just as well blindfolded.
Not only did none of the six score, but they didn’t even advance 90 feet.
At least Bronx native Johnny Monell got an at-bat in Yankee Stadium, even though he struck out swinging as Nova recorded the complete game.
Pagan looked like an average center fielder before he hurt his hamstring and had a tendon surgically removed. Now he looks like a solidly above average center fielder, especially when he sprints straight back, as he did to catch Ryan’s deep drive in the fourth.
How does that work, exactly?
The Yankees announced 42,420 paid. Yes, A-Rod, the Giants do travel well. Best way to shut them up is to shut them out, apparently.
The Giants finish their 10-game, three-city trip (if you count the Bronx and Queens separately, that is), as well as their 2013 road schedule, at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Yusmeiro Petit (4-0, 3.08 ERA) takes the mound against Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte (10-10, 3.93), who is making the final start of his career in home pinstripes.