Ryan Vogelsong dominated through six innings and the Pablo Sandoval came through in the clutch as the San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Vogelsong was on the hill looking to redeem himself from his prior two starts, and came back strong. After two four-run starts through four and five innings, respectively, the Giants’ fifth starter threw 83 pitches in his first quality start of the season. Vogelsong went six innings and gave up just one run on four hits at AT&T Park.
“He stayed consistent with delivery from the first inning, and had good command throughout the game. The last game helped,” said manager Bruce Bochy.
Vogelsong agreed, noting, “the last couple innings against Arizona helped me get going, and got me to where I was feeling what I wanted to feel.”
The righty struggled in the first three innings of his previous start against the Diamondbacks, but reigned himself in to retire six straight batters before being taken out last Thursday. He built on that in tonight’s start.
“I was able to make those pitches and keep them off-balance tonight. I was trying to eliminate as much mental stuff as possible and just focus on what I need to do.”
Vogelsong did just that, and he was helped out by his defense throughout the night. He faced the minimum through his first five innings, aided by a double play in the first, pickoff in the second, and a caught stealing in the third, when Buster Posey threw out Juan Uribe at second base.
The replay made an appearance after the second-inning pickoff, when Matt Kemp argued that he made it back to first in time. The Dodgers challenged the call, but after a much-too-long four minutes and 25 second review, the call was upheld and the game continued on.
The Dodgers lone run came in the fifth inning, when Vogelsong issued a walk to opposing pitcher Paul Maholm. The Dodgers took advantage of the mistake as Dee Gordon hit a triple to the wall and tied the game for Los Angeles. Vogelsong finished the sixth inning strong, but lost some control in the seventh. He drilled the left hand of Hanley Ramirez, who was forced to come out of the game, but to the relief of the Dodgers, X-rays came out negative.
“I was just trying to run the ball in on him. I went in on him the first time and everything else had been away. I thought I could sneak another one in and get an out, but it just ran a bit,” said Vogelsong.
After seven innings of relief in Tuesday night’s 12-inning game, the Giants’ bullpen needed the strong start from Vogelsong. San Francisco used all its relievers in the first game of this series, and while Jeremy Affeldt was activated from the disabled list earlier, the relievers needed a break.
The San Francisco bullpen has worked 50.2 innings so far this season and, even with their long outing last night, still held the Dodgers scoreless from the seventh inning on.
The Giants put their first run on the board in the third inning after a rally from the top of the order, when Hunter Pence scored from second on Buster Posey’s double. They then took the lead again in the seventh after a rally began at the bottom of the lineup. Joaquin Arias took a walk and advanced to second, then the Dodgers intentionally walked the struggling Hunter Pence to bring up Pablo Sandoval.
“It’s part of the game. I just try to tell myself to calm down and do the best I can,” said Sandoval.
Sandoval’s best turned out to be a sharp ground ball to center, scoring Arias from second base and providing the Giants with their winning run. Sandoval went two-for-four Wednesday night, and is now batting .186 on the season.
“His first swing wasn’t the prettiest, but he regrouped and battled up there,” said Bochy. “Hits like that can get a guy going. I think he has hit the ball better than what the numbers are showing. He’s had some tough luck.”
Tomorrow afternoon the Giants take on the Dodgers once more at AT&T Park to finish their first homestand of the season. Lefties Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu will face off at 12:45pm.