Notes: Old friend Vogelsong can help Giants on Sunday

vogey-pointing-usatsi.jpg

Notes: Old friend Vogelsong can help Giants on Sunday

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants know Ryan Vogelsong well enough to know that it doesn’t matter what’s at stake Sunday. The glare would be on Vogelsong’s face no matter the opponent. The will to win would be there no matter the date.

Still, just in case … 

“I was talking to Buster, and we said we should send him some enchiladas,” shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “Just order some up and send them to his hotel room in St. Louis.”

Vogelsong, now with the Pirates, will face the Cardinals on Sunday at Busch Stadium. The Giants and Dodgers will get going 10 minutes earlier at AT&T Park, and the Giants need just one more win to clinch a postseason spot. If they can’t finish the sweep, however, they’re hoping to get some help from an old friend. If Vogelsong beats the Cardinals, the Giants will be in the postseason regardless of what they do.

It’s a peculiar position for a player who hoped to return to San Francisco this season. Vogelsong helped the Giants to two titles, and now he has a chance to help them clinch a trip to New York for Wednesday’s wild card game. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could have started a young prospect, but he told MLB.com that he chose Vogelsong out of respect for competition. 

"Ryan's buy-in is going to be bigger than anybody else's buy-in in that clubhouse to go out and pitch a good ballgame,” Hurdle said. 

Vogelsong, 39, told CSN Bay Area in August that he’s committed to playing next season. He has struggled down the stretch and he had an 8.72 ERA in September, so the start represents one final chance to put up a solid box score before the offseason. 

The Giants will have one eye on Vogelsong and the Cardinals, but to a man they said the only goal Sunday is to win it at AT&T Park. Several Giants did, however, send Vogelsong text messages on Saturday afternoon. 

“I’m going to tell him I love him, and then I’m going to tell him to bring his A-game,” George Kontos said. 

Second baseman Joe Panik didn’t play with Vogelsong as long as most of the clubhouse, but he joked that he might reach out anyway with a simple, “Hey, Ryan … we’re thinking about you.” 

“Seriously, though, if someone from Pittsburgh is going to be in that situation, I want it to be him,” Panik said. 

Crawford agreed. He wasn’t sure if he would actually send a text to Vogelsong, who famously starts to lock in the day before a start, but Crawford does know that extra motivation isn’t necessary. 

“He’s going to go out and try to win, because that’s what he does every single start,” Crawford said. 

--- From earlier, here’s my game story on Ty Blach’s big day at the park. And, this seems a good time to note that Blach was on my podcast last month talking about his call-up. You can listen to him here. 

Thanks in large part to Blach, the math tomorrow is pretty simple. If the Giants win, they’re in. If they lose and the Cardinals win, the teams will play Monday night in St. Louis. If both teams lose, the Giants are headed to New York to face Noah Syndergaard.

--- Vin Scully was taken through the lower concourse on a golf cart after the game, and he got a loud ovation from Giants fans. He tried to stop the cart as he passed the clubhouse because he saw Buster Posey. He reached out and shook hands with the catcher. A reminder: CSN Bay Area will carry Scully’s call during the third inning of tomorrow’s broadcast. 

In case you missed it, Jon Miller was on my podcast to tell stories about Scully. 

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

Listless Giants roughed up by Pirates in ejection-filled series opener

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates kept clearing the fences, and the San Francisco Giants were left arguing plate umpire Chris Conroy's tough strike zone.

Even Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle understood the beef.

Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs, Gerrit Cole won for the fifth time in six starts, and the Pirates beat San Francisco 10-3 on Monday night.

"I think there was some frustration really all night," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who watched most of the game from his office after an ejection in the second. "I don't think he had a real good night, to be honest, as far as consistency, but that really had nothing to do with what happened tonight. We gave up three-run homers."

Jordy Mercer added a three-run shot of his own in the eighth to further back Cole (8-7), 5-1 in his last eight starts. That lone defeat came June 30 as San Francisco swept the Pirates at Pittsburgh from June 30-July 2 - the Giants' first in the series since 2009.

This time, Pittsburgh immediately jumped on San Francisco starter Matt Cain (3-9), who matched the longest losing streak of his career at eight games - also done from July 28, 2015-May 10, 2016.

Bochy was tossed by Conroy for arguing balls and strikes in support of Cain moments after McCutchen connected, the skipper's second time being tossed this year. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti then got tossed in the ninth.

"It was a tough zone," Hurdle said. "They lost two people on their side thrown out of the game."

Cole allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, struck out four and walked four.

He improved to 4-1 in six career starts against San Francisco. The Pirates won their seventh straight game at AT&T Park and ninth in 10, including sweeps both last year and in 2015.

Buster Posey hit a pair of RBI singles in San Francisco's fourth loss in five games.

McCutchen hit his 18th homer as the Pirates cleared the fences in San Francisco for a sixth straight game. His RBI groundout in the first started things off for a Pittsburgh club that had lost back-to-back games on the heels of a season-best, six-game winning streak, including a 13-3 flop in the finale against the Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.

Josh Bell and Starling Marte each doubled home a run and Josh Harrison added an RBI single.

"This offense is good, we've shown that," McCutchen said.

Cain matched his second-shortest outing of the year at four innings and is winless in his last 11 starts, the longest by a Giants pitcher since the right-hander went 15 outings without a victory during his previous eight-game skid.

CHEERS TO THE HOME RUN KING:
Former slugger Barry Bonds, who played for both teams, received a greeting on the scoreboard for his 53rd birthday but the career home run king wasn't in the stands.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco, who strained his left hamstring Friday at Colorado and landed on the 10-day disabled list, tested his leg with some straightaway running and was going to do some riding on the stationary bike with the hopes he can hit in the cage soon. Hurdle said he did witness Polanco scurry across a street to avoid being hit by a car, then acknowledged it wasn't that close a call. ... With an off day Thursday at San Diego, the starters will get an extra day of rest.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto played catch and said the trouble spots on three of his pitching fingers are greatly improved. He said they aren't true blisters. The plan is for him to play catch again Tuesday and perhaps throw off the mound Wednesday if all continues to go well. ... Closer Mark Melancon had the day off as he recovers from a second DL stint with a strained forearm. He will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, Bochy said, and face hitters this weekend in Los Angeles if ready.

UP NEXT:
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (6-3, 3.08 ERA) is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since returning from the DL on June 12, just more than a month after surgery for testicular cancer. He seeks his first decision against the Giants in two starts.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 3.57) tries again for his first victory of 2017 in his third outing back from missing nearly three months following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado.

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy ejected in second inning vs Pirates after arguing with umpire

Bruce Bochy's night didn't last very long.

The Giants manager was ejected in the top of the second inning Monday after arguing with the home plate umpire.

The argument came after a three-run homer by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Bochy appeared to be voicing frustrating with the strike zone.

Bochy came out to argue with Chris Conroy and the home plate umpire threw him out almost immediately.

McCutchen's home run put the Pirates up 6-0 in the second inning.