Urban: Giants fans need Vogelsong's story to last

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Urban: Giants fans need Vogelsong's story to last

Aug. 30, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

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.

Bullpen implodes after Cain goes five solid, Giants crushed by Padres

Bullpen implodes after Cain goes five solid, Giants crushed by Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wil Myers hit a three-run homer to cap San Diego's eight-run sixth inning and the Padres rallied to beat the San Francisco Giants 12-4 on Saturday night.

Myers also singled off Chris Stratton (1-0) to start the big inning and had three hits for the game. San Diego scored 11 runs against the Giants' bullpen following five effective innings from starter Matt Cain.

Allen Cordoba added a three-run homer off Neil Ramirez in the seventh.

The Padres combined for six hits and two walks off Stratton and Ramirez in the sixth. It took the duo 46 pitches to end the inning.

Jhoulys Chacin (3-3) struck out six and gave up three runs, five hits and two walks in five innings.

Triggs rebounds as A's halt 10-game losing streak to Astros

Triggs rebounds as A's halt 10-game losing streak to Astros

HOUSTON — Andrew Triggs keeps checking off all the right boxes in his first season as a major league starting pitcher.

Coming into the year, manager Bob Melvin said the right-hander’s biggest challenge would be retiring lefty hitters. He’s done that splendidly.

On Saturday, the A’s needed to see if Triggs could bounce back after his first rough outing of 2017. He responded with the best of his 11 career starts, holding a potent Astros lineup off the scoreboard for seven innings as the A’s registered a 2-1 victory that snapped their five-game losing streak.

The effective cutter that eluded Triggs when he lost to the Mariners last Sunday was back. Houston’s hitters waved helplessly at the pitch and began their walk back to the dugout all in the same motion, as Triggs rang up a career-high nine strikeouts. His seven innings also were a career high for the 28-year-old.

“We’re not really swinging the bats right now,” Melvin said. “We score two runs and we’re facing a lineup that you expect to score a bunch of runs. So to pitch as well as he did and go through the lineup three times, give us seven innings of work, is pretty good.

“He had the one off-outing, and every outing (besides that) has been pretty spotless.”

Triggs, whose 1.84 ERA ranks seventh in the American League, doesn’t blow people away with his fastball. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot that suggests it might be easy for left-handed hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. Last season, the batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were all roughly 40 to 50 points higher for lefties than for righties off Triggs.

All he’s done coming out of the gate this season is hold lefties to an .087 batting average (4-for-46). Another revealing stat: Opposing cleanup hitters are 0-for-14 off him.

Triggs credited catchers Stephen Vogt, Josh Phegley and, when he’s been up with the big club, Bruce Maxwell for their expertise in calling pitches against lefties.

“They’ve done such a good job keeping the sequences unpredictable,” he said. “You command pitches, you’re gonna get guys out. I know the stereotype is when you throw from the angle that I do, you’re gonna struggle with lefties. I’ve been aware, at least of that profile, for a while. I’ve worked on it quite a bit.”

Triggs had his entire repertoire working Saturday, according to Vogt.

“He was keeping them off-balance. Even when it seemed they were starting to sit on his slider, he starts sneaking some heaters by them. He was outstanding.”

But he had help. First baseman Yonder Alonso made a terrific leaping grab of Josh Reddick’s liner in the fifth that might have gone for extra bases. An inning before that, Jaff Decker made an on-the-money throw to third from deep right field to nail Carlos Beltran tagging up on a fly ball.

“He’s got a good arm so don’t sleep on him at all,” Triggs said.

Given how their month has gone, it’s no surprise the A’s got both their runs on homers. They’ve gone deep 31 times in April, their most homers in the month since they clubbed 34 in 2006. Lowrie, who’s spent two stints with the Astros and owns an offseason home in Houston, went deep to right to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Khris Davis mashed his 10th homer in the eighth for what wound up being an important insurance run when Jose Altuve followed with a homer off Sean Doolittle.

Davis’ teammates by now are accustomed to seeing the left fielder flaunt his opposite-field power. He’s hit three homers this series, all to straightaway right or right-center.

Said Lowrie: “I think at this point it’s fair to call it special.”