Rewind: Big lineup changes coming after Giants shut out

Rewind: Big lineup changes coming after Giants shut out
July 2, 2014, 11:15 pm
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Bruce Bochy plans to remove Gregor Blanco from the leadoff spot starting in Thursday's series finale with the Cardinals. (AP)

Programming note: Cardinals-Giants coverage starts Thursday at 12:00 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – Ryan Vogelsong had tremendous stuff all night and he maintained it. He struck out the side in the seventh inning. He gave the Giants a chance to win.

He didn’t care about any of that.

“It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a loss,” said Vogelsong, who got outdueled by Adam Wainwright in a 2-0 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night. “I’m tired of talking about stuff. It’s about winning and getting to the playoffs. Doesn’t matter what the stuff is.”

He paused a beat.

“Sorry. I don’t mean to be … it’s just kind of how I feel right now,” Vogelsong said. “Just trying to be honest.”

[INSTANT REPLAY: Wainwright quiets Giants, Cardinals win 2-0]

So is Bruce Bochy. The Giants manager finally acknowledged that Gregor Blanco is not getting it done as the leadoff hitter in Angel Pagan’s absence, and so he’s engineering a change at the top.

Bochy indicated that Hunter Pence would bat leadoff on Thursday as the Giants try for their first home series victory in nearly a month. And it won’t be a one-game trial.

When Brandon Belt rejoins the team from the disabled list on Friday, Bochy intends to hit the first baseman in the No.2 spot behind Pence.

“Gregor just got a little passive,” Bochy said of Blanco, who was 0 for 4 and is batting .179 since Pagan scratched himself from the lineup June 15 with a lower back issue that still hasn’t resolved itself.

Pagan’s .363 on-base percentage ranks as the second best in the major leagues among leadoff hitters with at least 200 at-bats. Without him, all other Giants No.1 hitters have combined for a .180 average and .242 on-base percentage.

Bochy sees Buster Posey swinging a hot bat, Pablo Sandoval posting the third highest average in the NL (.335) since May 10 and he believes it’s a matter of time before Michael Morse finds his extra-base stroke again. But the Giants just aren’t creating enough traffic in front of them.

“It’s nice to see the guys are grinding out at-bats, but it’s all about putting runners on base, creating chances and someone coming through,” Bochy said. “We only had one or two decent chances.”

The Giants had a signed permission slip for that against Wainwright, whom they hit well last month in St. Louis when he was ailing a bit. Wainwright had a 1.16 ERA in four starts after that, though.

Vogelsong nearly matched him. He only gave up two hits outside of the Cardinals’ two-run third inning, and he wiped out both of those runners with double-play grounders. He got stronger as the game went along. He did nearly everything right to give the team a chance against an opposing ace.

He kept up the momentum for a rotation that has a 1.76 ERA in seven games beginning with Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter.

“I was pleased and he should be,” Bochy said of Vogelsong, who has struck out 15 over his last 13 innings. “Seven innings, two runs, he gave us the chance we needed. They hit a bump in the road but we’re getting more consistent with this rotation.

“Really good command, good curve, cutter, changeup. All his pitches were going. He had a good tempo there and that’s a good ballclub he’s facing. I thought his stuff was right there at the top of his game.”

Not that Vogelsong was in any mood to take solace in it.

“These guys, they’ll start swinging it,” Vogelsong said. “They were swinging it before, they’ll swing it again. You either get through it and get stronger, or you don’t and you finish in last.

“So we’ll get through it.”

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