SAN FRANCISCO – Bruce Bochy didn’t pull Ryan Vogelsong from the rotation. He didn’t banish Pablo Sandoval to the bench.
Amid shriller voices, Bochy had a simple reason for showing faith in both players.
“These are two guys we need to have success,” said Bochy, before Vogelsong dealt and Sandoval powered the Giants to a 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
“Vogey, being one of our starters and Pablo, hitting in the heart of the order …” Bochy said. “When you lose a bat like (Brandon) Belt, some guys have to step up and Pablo has done that for us.”
Sandoval singled to start a two-out rally in the first inning, hit his first homer in more than a month in the fifth and is batting .389 over a nine-game hitting streak.
His average is up to .220. It was .173 a week earlier when Bochy stuck him in the cleanup spot at Dodger Stadium and Sandoval asked the manager how much he had to drink the previous night.
But that show of faith might have rubbed off on Sandoval.
“His at-bats have really picked up,” Bochy said. “His point of contact has changed, if you noticed. He’s out in front and he’s handling the (inside pitch) better. He’s quieted down to where he can handle all the pitches, where he was lunging before.
“Pablo … he can hit. It was a matter of time before he came around. And Vogey, he has a way of figuring it out, too.”
Vogelsong had a 7.71 ERA over his first four starts but has posted a 1.62 ERA over his last five outings, after dealing seven shutout innings to help the Giants split this four-game series.
Bochy said he wasn’t terribly concerned about Vogelsong in April because he saw a fastball that kept getting better and better. It’s a tick below what he threw in 2011, when he went from non-roster invitee to NL All-Star. But his direction to the plate is much better, he’s finishing his pitches and it’s evident that his back isn’t an issue at present.
Vogelsong didn’t throw more than 19 pitches in any of his seven innings against the Marlins, who did him the courtesy of giving Giancarlo Stanton a day off. Vogelsong’s fastball averaged 90.5 mph, according to PitchF/X, and getting ahead with it allowed him to use his curve as a put-away pitch. He threw 27 of them, 20 for strikes, and got four swings and misses. He didn’t give up a single hit on the curve.
Vogelsong joked that they key to his success was the Brandon Crawford Plan.
“Get as many ground balls to him as you can,” said Vogelsong, whose shortstop made a diving stop that otherwise might have been a two-run single in the sixth.
Like Sandoval, you can sense Vogelsong’s confidence is getting full to bursting. It’s remarkable how baseball can make kindred spirits out of two very different people.
“I’ve read a lot of stuff that they’ve said about Pablo and it’s true,” Vogelsong said. “The first thing is you’ve got to stop digging the hole, and the second thing is you’ve got to believe you can do it. When they believe in you, that makes a big difference.”
Credit the manager for that. But after another winning homestand, and approaching their first day off after 17 consecutive days, Bochy was more keen to laud his players. He said he asked Crawford if he wanted a day off, and the shortstop didn’t beg out.
“I like where they’re at,” Bochy said. “I like their attitude. And I have a good feeling these guys aren’t going to change with the way they’re going after it.”