Giants

Vogelsong makes case for playoff rotation

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Vogelsong makes case for playoff rotation

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he wouldannounce his NL Division Series rotation the entire rotation followingThursdays optional workout at AT&T Park.

Ryan Vogelsong did his best to make it an arduous decisionin Wednesdays regular-season finale.

Thats probably the best Ive thrown the ball all season,said Vogelsong, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when an error keptthe team on the field and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw followed with an RBIsingle. I thought I didnt miss a pitch till Kershaw got that breaking ballthere.

Vogelsong did not receive a decision after throwing 71pitches over five innings. He finished with a 14-9 record and 3.37 ERA, comingup just short in a bid to join Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito inthe 15-win club.

More importantly, he allowed just one earned run over hisfinal three starts a run that more closely approximated those fantastic firstfour months, when he was the NL ERA leader as late as Aug. 8.

He threw great, Bochy said. Good stuff, good command.Like with Matt Cain, we got him where we wanted him. He pitched very well. Hesall set to go. Now its a matter of setting up this rotation and deciding howwe want to do things.

Like with Cain? Does that suggest Vogelsong is being groomedto start, perhaps as early as Game 3 in Cincinnati?

Sure, possibly, Bochy said. But also in case we want touse him the first couple games, wed have him available.

Vogelsong, for all his intensity, said he wouldnt try to lobbyfor a start.

I just tried to treat today like a playoff game, mentally,said Vogelsong, who is the only member of the Giants rotation who hasntpitched in one. Personally, Id love to have the opportunity to start aplayoff game. But at this point, its not about me. Its about us. If the bestdecision is for me to go to the bullpen, thats what Im going to do.

Well know soon enough.

Many fans would say the simplest thing to do is sendLincecum, clearly the worst of the five starters over the long haul this season,to the bullpen. But Bochy has spoken many times about Lincecums ability toperform when the lights come on. I think theres still a level of belief thatTimmy will come through, despite finishing with the worst ERA (5.18) of 46 NLpitchers who qualified for the ERA title.

Im not saying this is how the Giants will go, but if itsup to me, I would start Cain and Bumgarner in the first two games, then startLincecum in Game 3. You can usually tell if Lincecum is on or off within the first10 pitches. If hes off, Id pull the ripcord and use Vogelsong as yourparachute.

That way, if Lincecum does pitch well and the series goes toGame 4, you can start Zito (with Vogelsong providing backup again). Bochy canalways reserve the right to turn to Cain on short rest, too.

In the postseason, its all about keeping your options open.And hopefully, you like most of them.

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”