Vogelsong a hulking presence as Giants beat Rangers

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Vogelsong a hulking presence as Giants beat Rangers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO Bruce Bochy calls it maniacal focus. RyanVogelsong calls it game mode.

The rest of the Giants call it a reason to poke some fun.

Well these guys give me some grief about that, saidVogelsong, after another masterful performance at AT&T Park in a 5-2victory over the Texas Rangers.

That would be the trance, or blood fever, or whatevermental and physiological transformation washes over Vogelsong in the hours before a start.It begins a day before, actually. Then, for a night game, hes no good to theworld by lunchtime. He becomes asdead quiet as detention in the library.

He's so intense, you almost expect him to turn green and bulge out of his tattered clothing.

Its probably because when I had my struggles, it alwaysgot back to that, said Vogelsong, who had a six-year hiatus from the majorleagues before discovering himself as a first-time All-Star last season.

He tries to be polite and interact with a teammate or answera question when its put to him, but

When Im in game mode, I like to stay there, he said.Its about focus and being absolutely committed to making pitches. Sometimesit starts at 12:30 in the afternoon, sometimes at 2.

These guys give me grief but sometimes thats the wayits got to be.

Even if he has to bring it home sometimes. With an afternoongame Saturday, Vogelsong had to start putting up mental walls Friday night. Howdoes that work for his wife, Nicole?

It was tough for her at first, he said. She knows. Shegets it.

Its hard to argue with the results. Vogelsong looks to bepunching his pass to another All-Star Game after putting forth another feisty,never-give-in effort. This time, he went a season-high 7 23 innings and heldthe Texas Rangers, easily the best and most dangerous offensive club in themajor leagues, to three hits. He took a shutout into the eighth.

When he handed over the baseball at 111 pitches, he had a5-1 lead and the bases empty. He had every reason to skip to his loo back tothe dugout.

Instead, he looked like he wanted to rearrange manager BruceBochys face.

What is it Bill Bixby used to say? "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

He does have that look, even when you go out to get theball, Bochy said. Thats what you want. Its one pitch at a time, and henever loses that focus. Its fun to watch because hes that way from the firstpitch of the game.

Watching Vogelsong is like watching a really good thrillermovie or spending a great day at the beach. You look up and wonder how timepassed so quickly. How is it the seventh inning, already? How is the sun aboutto go down?

But heres the most interesting thing about a Vogelsong dayat the ballpark: For all his maniacal focus, for all the internalization andthe elimination of external stimuli, hes still a pitcher who competes onemotion. It fuels him like coal in a furnace. Probably more than anyone else on the Giants staff, he lets momentumcarry him.

No wonder hes got a 1.47 ERA at AT&T Park this season.

The energy in this place, it just kind of gets me going,he said. The fans are always with us, always behind us. It gets me going. Idont know what to say other than that. I dont pitch any differently on theroad. But here, it definitely takes me to another notch.

Vogelsong wins because he never gives in. Thats the easiestway to put it. He doesnt yield to the count or the scoreboard. Hell try tomake a pitchers pitch, every time. And usually, he gets close enough.

Its pretty simple, Bochy said. Youve got to execute,and Vogey is as good as anybody. He throws four pitches and he throws them verywell. Hes been consistent all year, really. He throws hard and he commands hisfastball, which you have to do.

Said Vogelsong, after allowing just a solo homer to MitchMoreland: I had all four pitches working and I just tried to keep moving theball around on those guys. Theyre obviously a very talented offensive team. Iwas just trying to hit Busters glove and let them put it in play, and let ourguys catch it. Those guys came through today. They made bunches of nice plays.

If Vogelsong has faith in his teammates, its reciprocal. Hehas completed at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts. Notonce has he pitched less than six innings. His 2.26 ERA is fourth best amongall major league starters.

And the Giants are 7-0 in his last seven starts.

I just try to do what Im supposed to do, he said. I justtry to stay in as long as I can, keep them off the board as long as I can, andits translating to wins right now.

Vogelsong takes a lot of pride in his work, as anyone would.But the former Kutztown University shortstop takes a lot of pride in hishitting, too. So he definitely was relieved when he singled in his first at-batto collect his first hit of the year.

Vogelsong, perhaps affected by the back stiffness that puthim on the DL to start the year, had been 0-for-20 with 18 strikeouts.

He was explaining to reporters that he had to give credit toBuster Posey and hitting coach Hensley Bam Bam Meulens for giving him someadvice. And what was it, exactly?

Dont miss the ball, came a shout from the other side ofthe clubhouse, likely Matt Cain or Jeremy Affeldt.

Posey told him he had developed an uppercut. Meulens toldhim to just let your hands go.

Throw the bat at the ball? Well, it couldnt get much worse,right?

Sometimes simple is the best way to go, right? Vogelsongsaid.

So...hell let Bochy live for taking him out?

Uhmmmm...It was getting close, getting close, he said,finally allowing himself to ease into a smile. He made the right move.

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

SAN FRANCISCO — The momentum generated by Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse late Wednesday night lasted just a few hours. By the end of this four-game series, the Giants were left with a harsh reality: Even with two injections of new blood, they are not hitting. 

Arroyo drove in another run Thursday, but that was it for a lineup that couldn’t support Matt Moore’s effort. The bullpen, which had kept Bruce Bochy’s guys in close games all series, finally broke in the 10th. The Dodgers walked away with a 5-1 win and a split of a series that was rather uninspiring for both sides. 

After scoring 10 runs on the last road trip, the Giants scored just eight during the four games against the Dodgers. Three of those RBI came from Arroyo, called up Monday. A fourth came from Morse, called up Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get this offense going,” Bochy said. “It’s a better offense than what we’re doing right now. You need to find a way to put a few runs on the board. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find ways to get the big hit.”

With Denard Span out for at least another week, Bochy moved Hunter Pence to the top of the lineup. His temporary No. 3 hitter against lefties, Eduardo Nuñez, has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Buster Posey, the cleanup hitter, is batting .357, but he has driven in just three runs this month. With two on and one out in the eighth, he bounced into a double play. The production closer to the bottom of the order has been nonexistent, leading to constant shuffling that has moved Nuñez and Belt to left at times. Bochy said the staff will continue to search of a lineup that works. 

“You talk about it and do thing to adjust, and it will get better, but right now we’ve got some guys who aren’t swinging the bat well, to be honest,” he said. “You look at the order and we don’t have a lot of guys swinging well.”

The list does not include Arroyo, the rookie who will eventually have to deal with adjustments from pitchers. It doesn’t appear that’ll be a problem. Arroyo has been making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He did so against Sergio Romo for his first career homer and said he learned about the depth of Julio Urias’ curveball during their first two battles Thursday. In the sixth, the 21-year-old Arroyo drove in the game-tying run against the 20-year-old Urias. The lefty had walked Posey to face Arroyo, who singled up the middle. 

“He handles himself so well,” Bochy said. “They walked Buster and he smokes the ball. This kid has shown he’s not in awe. The upper deck, the bright lights, he comes to play.”

Arroyo’s effort briefly backed Moore, who was sharp in seven innings. Moore struck out eight, six of them looking, but he didn’t get much help and the bullpen fell apart in the 10th with a series of walks.

Bochy challenged his starters on Saturday at Coors Field and they responded with a strong series back home. The bullpen was tested during the first week but — Thursday’s result aside — it has settled down. The Giants are not as worried about their pitching as they were as they flew back from Denver. They know, however, that this team is going nowhere if two runs per game continues to be the nightly output. 

“We’ll tweak it again,” Bochy said of his lineup. “We'll see if we can get this thing right.”

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Quietly over the past couple of weeks, Bruce Bochy’s bullpen had started to settle. Bochy praised the group before Thursday’s game, noting that roles were being defined by pitchers who entered the series finale with the Dodgers with a 0.94 collective ERA this season. That changed in the 10th inning Thursday.

Three relievers combined to give up four runs on four walks and three singles. The implosion ended with a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers and a split of this four-game series. 

For most of the game, this was a day when youth shined. Corey Seager celebrated his 23rd birthday with a solo homer in the first on a two-strike pitch from Matt Moore that caught the heart of the plate. The Giants will be dealing with Seager for years, and if all goes according to plan, there will be years of Julio Urias vs. Christian Arroyo battles, too. 

The 21-year-old third baseman won the first matchup, lining a single to center. Arroyo flew out in his second at-bat against the 20-year-old Urias, but they faced off a third time in a big spot. Brandon Belt drew a one-out walk in the sixth and went to third when a pickoff throw skipped down the line. After an intentional walk of Buster Posey, Arroyo lined another one back up the middle. Urias stuck his glove up but it ticked off and into center for a game-tying single. 

Arroyo ended the young lefty’s day. Moore was done after seven sparkling innings. He struck out eight, six of them looking. 

The game went to extras, and Cory Gearrin walked pinch-hitter Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the 10th. Chase Utley was called up to bunt but he couldn’t get it down. Instead, he hit an infield single off Steven Okert that stayed true to the third-base line. After a walk of Yasmani Grandal, the third straight pinch-hitter, Andrew Toles lined a single to center to give the Dodgers a lead and the wheels soon came off. 

Utley alertly tagged up and scored on a pop-up to foul territory. Justin Turner’s single extended the lead to three and Hunter Strickland’s four-pitch walk of Chris Taylor pushed another across. 

Starting pitching report: Moore gave up 19 hits and 11 earned runs in his two previous starts, but the Dodgers had just two hits, the Seager homer and a Chris Taylor single. Taylor reached third with one out, but Moore got Scott Van Slyke and Cody Bellinger to go down looking. 

Bullpen report: Mark Melancon came on in a non-save situation for a second straight day and pitched a scoreless ninth. 

At the plate: Buster Posey’s hitting streak ended at 12 games. He twice bounced into double plays.

In the field: Posey chased a high pop-up down the right field line in the fourth, but he was going to come up short. Kelby Tomlinson came out of nowhere with the helping hand, making a running catch near the visiting bullpen. Posey smiled and shook his head as Tomlinson whipped the ball back to the infield. 

Attendance: The Giants said they sold out a 500th consecutive game.

Up next: The Giants have a three-city road trip coming up, so it’s time to take advantage of a weekend at home against the Padres. Jeff Samardzija and Luis Perdomo get the opener.