DENVER You can point to Ryan Vogelsongs velocity or hisstuff or his flared nostrils on the mound and say that nothing has changed.
But the ERA tells another story. And so do the results onthe scoreboard.
Vogelsong gave up enough hard contact to lose to theColorado Rockies for the first time in his career Monday night, yielding fourruns in five innings as the Giants dropped a 6-5 defeat at Coors Field.
He has a 9.57 ERA over his last six starts.
Others are perplexed. Vogelsong is angry.
Cue those flared nostrils.
Im costing us games right now and Im not really happyabout it, said Vogelsong, who has tumbled from first to 13 in the NL among ERAleaders over that six-start span. I feel today it was on the arm side. Lasttime, it was on the glove side. Its like I fix one and the other goes haywire.I need to get back to the middle of the road here.
His fastball location is erratic. His confidence is less so.
Yeah, Im fine, he said. Im a battler, guys. Look whatIve been through. A couple bad starts in a span of six is not going to get medown. Ive been through way too much in this game to let six not good startskeep me from where I want to get with this team.
The team remains in a good place, even though they lost ahalf-game off their NL West lead and now hold a five-game advantage over theLos Angeles Dodgers with 21 to play.
Its hard to imagine the Giants tanking the division unlessthe rotation implodes down the stretch. They certainly have their share ofquestion marks in Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum, and its reasonable to think theinnings might be wearing down Madison Bumgarner and Vogelsong to some extent.
Its worth noting that Vogelsong slipped a bit down thestretch last year, too. There was nothing wrong with his 3.26 ERA after theAll-Star Game in his breakthrough season. But it was a full run more than the2.19 ERA he posted before the break to make the All-Star squad despite asix-year absence from the major leagues.
The characteristic cut and run on Vogelsongs fastballhasnt been there as consistently. He paid for straight fastballs on all threehits he allowed in the Rockies two-run first inning. Another 1-2 heater downthe middle missed its target and pitcher Alex White jumped on it for a solohome run in the second inning.
Is the difference mental, mechanical, repetition?
All that, he said.
It doesnt sound like catcher Buster Posey will be able tooffer much insight beyond that.
I dont know. Im kind of at a loss, really, Posey said.The stuff is there, velocity is there. Hes throwing the ball as well as ever,I feel like.
Theres as much frustration probably for me as for him. Aguy like him, as hard as he works, you want him to have success every timeout.
Bochy said his 35-year-old right-hander will have successagain.
Hes feeling good, hes healthy. Thats the key, Bochysaid. Hes one of our guys and hell be out there. We have all the confidencein the world in him. Hes done an unbelievable job. I think Vogey is going tobe just fine.
The Giants have a day off Thursday and another Sept. 24. Buteven if they felt Vogelsong could benefit from being pushed back so he couldmix in a bonus bullpen session or recharge his batteries, their other fourstarters need the rest just as badly. So as long as everyone remains reasonablyhealthy, expect the Giants to keep continuity.
At least Vogelsong appeared to emerge with no significantdamage from a line drive off his right shin. He wore a wrap over his leg andsaid it was sore.
Bochy wasnt too concerned when the line drive hitVogelsong. As the trainer rushed to attend to the pitcher in the second inning,the manager bypassed the mound and went straight to argue a call at first base.
Yeah, yeah, Ive got to apologize to him for that, Bochysaid, smiling. I was trying to get the call for him."