Pagan, Vogelsong steer Giants to fifth consecutive win

864919.jpg

Pagan, Vogelsong steer Giants to fifth consecutive win

SAN FRANCISCO Ryan Vogelsongs rut lasted two starts.Angel Pagan skidded on the shoulder for the better part of July.

They both had different triggers for setting themselvesright again. And without those course corrections, the Giants wouldve stood littlechance against the Atlanta Braves Friday night.

For Pagan, it was the move to the leadoff spot on Aug. 3.Since then, hes batting .391 and has scored 27 runs in 21 games. He had fourmore hits and crossed the plate three times to help the streaking Giantsovercome an early deficit in a 5-3 victory at AT&T Park.

For Vogelsong, it was a trip to the video room and a sessionwith pitching coach Dave Righetti following two rough outings in which he mighthave been giving away his pitches. Vogelsong had dismissed his eight-run,2.2-inning start against Washington as a fluke. But then after the Padresharassed him in three innings

With all those foul balls, I knew something had to be goingon, Vogelsong said. Something needed to be adjusted. My direction towardthe plate needed to get better. I was swinging off the ball, maybe showing theball too early.

Sure, Vogelsong allowed three home runs, which matched hiscareer high set April 20, 2004 at Pittsburgh. That day, the Cubs Alex Gonzalezgot him twice and Todd Walker also took him deep. (That was another life,Vogelsong said.)

This time, it was Jason Heyward in the first, FreddieFreeman in the second and Freeman again on the last pitch he threw in theseventh.

But in between, Vogelsong had life on his cutter andtwo-seamer again. He only allowed one other hit while leading the Giants totheir season high-tying fifth consecutive victory.

And the starters won all five, right? Vogelsong said.

And the starters won all five. Exactly right.

You wouldnt think that to be a rare feat, especially for apitching-rich organization like this one. But the Giants hadnt accomplishedthat since April 20-25, 2007. Back then, it was Russ Ortiz, Barry Zito, MattCain, Matt Morris and Noah Lowry.

April of 2007 might sound strangely familiar to you, and forgood reason. When the Giants finished their sweep in LA on Wednesday, it markedtheir first at Dodger Stadium since April 24-26, 2007. As it happened, Morrisand Lowry won the first two games of that series.

The lesson: It always begins with starting pitching. Always.

Vogelsong wasnt aware how rare it was for the starters towin five in a row. He was just glad to keep the streak alive.

Here lately, Im the only one not holding up my end of thebargain, he said. I just wanted a piece of the action.

Its all action all the time with Pagan, who said getting back to aleadoff mentality is what allowed him to keep a better approach. He's hittimg .514 with a .552 on-base percentage over an eight-game hitting streak, while scoring 28 runs in 21 games since moving back to the leadoff spot.

When youre a leadoff hitter, youre not there to hit ahome run, he said. Youre there to get a hit and get on base.

Heres how dedicated he is to that proposition: When heneeded a home run for the cycle, he didnt even try for it. He singled up themiddle, instead.

Well I hit a ball pretty good and it didnt go, saidPagan, of his triple off the bricks in the fourth. So why would I want to gofor that? I wanted to get on base again.

And again, and again, and again

This is the best Ive felt and I think its at the righttime, when the team needs it the most, Pagan said. When you know you can givethe pitcher two strikes and still be confident, thats where you want to be.

First place is a good place to be, too.

Right now were playing the best weve played all season, andwe have to keep it up, Pagan said. What other teams do, thats theirbusiness. Were in first place and weve got to protect that.

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

BOX SCORE

Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.

Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one. 

In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame. 

Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports. 

After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports

Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season. 

The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. 

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”