Vogelsong: 'I'm costing us games right now'

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Vogelsong: 'I'm costing us games right now'

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."

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.