Urban: Giants fans need Vogelsong's story to last


Urban: Giants fans need Vogelsong's story to last

Aug. 30, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants lost, the Diamondbacks won. Nothing new here, folks. Keep it moving.
But wait. There was a little something new Tuesday. Not entirely new, mind you. In fact, that it wasn't entirely new is what makes it worth noting.Were it brand-spanking new, it wouldn't be a big deal. It's not brand-spanking new, though. It's something that many people have been very quietly expecting for quite some time, even though those same people have been hoping against hope that it wouldn't.Well, it's happening, damn it, and for those of who enjoy professional sports as much for the human elements of triumph, perseverance and pride as for the ferocity of competition among the best athletes on the world, it pretty much sucks.
RECAP: Giants continue downward spiral, fall to Cubs 5-2The Ryan Vogelsong joyride is starting to hit some speed bumps, and it's about the worst thing that could happen for any Giants fans who have accepted what increasingly appears to be the team's mid-fall fate (Read: 10 a.m. tee time on Oct. 4). The terrific and touching Vogelsong story, no matter what happened to the Giants, was something San Francisco could call its own. Something the city's baseball-crazed denizens could cling to, take pride in, feel a part of. It still can be that, but if the trend that seemed to continue Tuesday continues much longer, the story will simply mirror the general theme of the Giants' season: Hot start, high hopes, slow fade to black.
In fact, there's enough time left in the season that the story could turn downright sour.Speed bumps, unless you know exactly when they're coming and can slow down to the point that the jarring is negligible, are never comfortable. Hit a series of them without warning and they're even worse. Vogelsong's joyride, from obscure journeyman to extraordinary All-Star, has been slowed of late to where it's almost to the point of painful.URBAN: Overseas to All-Star, Vogelsong unabashedVogelsong, whose rise ranks among the better feel-good stories in recent big-league memory, went 9-1 with a 2.17 ERA over his first 20 games with the Giants, including 18 starts after taking over as an injury replacement. With Tuesday's loss, in which he gave up three earned runs over five innings before being removed for a pinch hitter, dropped him to 1-4 with a 4.22 ERA over his past five starts.You've probably grown to love Vogelsong, in part because of his remarkable backstory, which has been spotlighted in Showtime's "The Franchise." You might have fallen in love with Vogelsong's wife, Nicole, for any number of reasons. It's hard not to root for this couple, which seems as genuine, trusting and committed as a couple can get. They've been through the wars together, so to speak, and they've finally, this year, started to reap the rewards.Yet all along, as the season's worn on, there have been whispers.No way this lasts. He's coming back to earth as some point. Nobody does this. It's too good to be true.Sad that we think that way, but we do. That's a fact. And it's also a fact that Vogelsong doesn't have ungodly stuff. He had very good stuff, but he has to be able to put it exactly where he wants it, when he wants it there, to beat people. And he's been able to do that for a very long time.Lately, though, he hasn't been able to do it with the same consistency with which he did it on the way to earning his improbable All-Star spot. On Aug. 8, he gave up five earned runs, and while he hasn't allowed more than three in any of his subsequent four outings, he'd set the bar so high for himself with a string of zeros, ones and twos that this recent run seems like that quietly anticipated fall.That was the real bummer of Tuesday. Yeah, the Giants dropped another game in the standings and now sit six games back of Arizona in the National League West, but a lot of folks have already written the end of that story, and it's not pretty.RELATED: MLB standings
That leaves the Vogelsong story's final chapters as the most compelling drama yet to unfold, and if you do love that human element of sport, you have to be hoping it doesn't flat-out unravel.

A's starter Paul Blackburn removed from game after being hit by line drive


A's starter Paul Blackburn removed from game after being hit by line drive

A’s starter Paul Blackburn left Tuesday’s start in the fifth inning after a liner struck him on the right wrist.

Blackburn was in obvious pain after the Baltimore Orioles’ Trey Mancini hit the line shot back up the middle to lead off the bottom of the fifth at Camden Yards. The ball hit Blackburn flush, and he exited the field shortly after being visited by team trainer Nick Paparesta.

There was no immediate word from the A’s on the severity of his injury. But it was a very unfortunate turn of events for Oakland’s rookie, who largely has impressed in 10 starts since being called up from the minors. He got through four scoreless innings Tuesday, showing sharp form after giving up 18 hits over his previous two starts.

Simon Castro came on in relief as the A’s led the Orioles 5-0 in the fifth. Ryon Healy has homered twice for Oakland.

Top draft pick is the latest Giant to be sidelined by a concussion


Top draft pick is the latest Giant to be sidelined by a concussion

SAN FRANCISCO -- At this point, the Giants have gotten used to some of the realities of this season. They have been a last-place team for months, and when they were officially eliminated from the National League West on Sunday the response was basically a "long time coming" shrug. 

But some parts of this season still stun team officials, and the continued injuries are at the top of the list. It's not just that players are getting hurt ... it's that key guys are getting hurt at every single level of the organization. The latest to go down is Heliot Ramos, this year's first-round pick. Per general manager Bobby Evans, Ramos suffered a concussion when he was hit by a pitch on Sunday night. 

Ramos was tearing up the Arizona League, hitting .348 with a .404 on-base percentage, six homers, six triples and 11 doubles. The 48 strikeouts in 138 at-bats are a bit of an early concern, but the Giants are not stressing too much over a 17-year-old with a 1.049 OPS in his first professional season. Ramos is expected to miss 7-10 days, which is disappointing because the Giants were hopeful he would get a big taste of postseason action, even if it is just in the rookie league in Arizona. 

The injury continues a stunning trend. Chris Shaw and Bryan Reynolds are the only prospects out of the organization's top seven -- per MLB Pipeline -- who have avoided an injury setback. There is some good news, however, for a couple of those players who have gotten hurt. Austin Slater is 10-14 days from starting a rehab assignment, although he would probably need the San Jose Giants to make their postseason to see significant game action.

Steven Duggar was promoted from San Jose to Triple-A Sacramento on Monday and had a good first night. He's unlikely to be a September call-up because of the injuries, and he's also in the same situation as Shaw and Andrew Suarez as a player who doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. 

--- As for the injured big leaguers: Johnny Cueto (elbow) is scheduled to throw three innings for Sacramento tonight and Joe Panik (concussion) will play five innings. Cueto will make at least one more rehab start. Panik will join San Jose on Wednesday and could return to the big league lineup on the next road trip. 

--- Bochy said Mark Melancon feels good after going back-to-back days. It doesn't sound like he'll return to the ninth inning anytime soon. It's easier to monitor Melancon's pronator strain when he's not the closer and Bochy said the two have talked about that situation. For instance, Matt Cain stayed warm after pitching the seventh on Monday. If Melancon had felt something while warming up for the eighth, Cain would have gone back out there.