SEATTLE Ryan Vogelsong came out of his ritualistic bloodfever, which he enters in the hours before every start, to say a rare word to ateammate Friday afternoon.
It was Matt Cain.
Yeah, I told him before the game today Im trying to keepup with him, said Vogelsong, who was one of the greatest admirers of Cainsperfect game on Wednesday. Hes not making it easy.
Vogelsong was not perfect in a 4-2 victory over the SeattleMariners. But if there is something more pure than perfection, its overcomingimperfection. And nobody does that better than the Giants 34-year-old successstory.
I actually feel Ive pitched better than I did last yearbecause Im pitching out of jams, said Vogelsong, who faced plenty of earlyturbulence yet took a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning. Not that Ididnt last year, but its even more now. That comes with success andconfidence. You just keep making pitches. Guys make plays for you.
Like I said, Im just trying to keep up with the big man.
In the most important sense, he is. The Giants are 8-0 inCains last eight starts. Theyre 8-0 in Vogelsongs last eight, too.
In case math is not your strong suit ... the Giants are 16-0 in their last 16 games with Cain and Vogelsong on the mound.
Thats incredibly convenient for Tim Lincecum. As theirstruggling two-time Cy Young Award winner takes the mound Saturday, its evenmore well documented that the Giants are 0-8 in his last eight outings.
Imagine how crippling the pressure would be on Lincecum ifnot for Vogelsong and Cain.
Oh, without question, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. AndI think you have to look at Zito, too, with the job hes done. It does take thepressure off. You dont always rely on your No.1 guy to win a ballgame.
Its gonna get better with Timmy. No question. But in themeantime, its about picking each other up. And Vogelsong, its fun to watchhim. I think Buster (Posey) will tell you its fun to catch him, too.
The longball is fun, too. The Giants got two of them, fromPosey and Melky Cabrera, and have hit eight over their last four games. Toparaphrase Bochy and Posey: Hey, they come in bunches.
Vogelsongs quality starts are consistent as well asplentiful. He battled again in the early innings and fought himself to throwstrikes at times. But second baseman Ryan Theriot made a jump throw across hisbody and shortstop Joaquin Arias picked it out of the dirt while sweepingacross the bag, then threw off-balance to complete an impressive double play inthe fourth inning.
If Arias doesnt dig out that ball and keep it from goinginto left field, its likely that a run scores and the Mariners have runners atsecond and third with one out. Instead. Theriot gave Arias a round of applauseas they jogged off the field together.
Vogelsong retired the next nine hitters.
Well, what a play like that does is it makes you pitch tocontact, he said. If guys are going to make plays like that let them hitit.
Vogelsongs ability to grind through starts is what mostimpresses Bochy.
What you like about him, he keeps his composure out there,Bochy said. He continues to grind it out and make pitches.
Bochy would love to be able to say the same thing afterLincecums start in his hometown Saturday.