Ryan Vogelsong made sure the homestand came to a happy close for the Giants and their fans, as he held the Marlins scoreless over seven innings in San Francisco’s 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon.
Vogelsong continued his streak of strong outings for the orange and black, giving up five hits while walking one and striking out six. He had a good command of his fastball, according to manager Bruce Bochy, but Vogelsong thought it was just…okay.
“I know I don’t have the fastball that I had a couple years ago, so I feel like I had to do a better job with other pitches. They’re a very aggressive team, especially with fastballs and fastball counts, so I tried to use my off-speed stuff to set stuff up,” he said.
The change in strategy for Vogelsong has been a helpful influence in his ability to come back from a season start that included 14 runs over his first 16.1 innings. Since then, he’s been able to take hold of his command and find ways of getting to opponents.
“What I liked about Vogey was his stuff,” said Bochy. “It was the same stuff he had in 2012, and I thought he had a little zip on his fastball that he normally has when he’s going well, so it was only a matter of time before he got on track. If you look back at his last few starts, they’ve been impressive.”
In his last five outings, Vogelsong has gone 2-1 while giving up just six earned runs over 33.1 innings of work. Bochy’s confidence in his No. 5 starter was a influential help, as well as the belief that things will turn around.
“You have to believe that. If you don’t, you’re behind the eight-ball to begin with. You have to believe you’re going to turn it around,” Vogelsong said. “You have to stop digging the hole to get out of, and you have to believe you can do it.”
The strong start and run support was able to set things up nicely in the ninth, as well as give fans a chance to dance along to “El Mechon” for a bit Sergio Romo closed out the ninth for San Francisco, marking his 70th career save and 15th this season. He is 15-for-16 in save chances, and has allowed just two hits to the 35 batters he’s faced at home.
On the offensive side, the Giants didn’t waste any time getting on the board. The bats started off strong in the first inning, as a Buster Posey sacrifice fly scored the first run for San Francisco. Four straight singles followed that to let Vogelsong take the field with a three-run lead.
He appreciated the help, adding, “I had a game plan in place that I was going to go with no matter what, but you’re able to attack guys a little bit more when there are early runs on the board.”
Before today’s game, Vogelsong had received just six runs of support in his last six starts: a major shift from the 13 he enjoyed in his first two outings.
“That was a big factor today. It was great to see we came out and got out on them early, and he settled down after that so the first inning was big.”
“He found his groove,” added Posey.
In spite of a challenging first inning, the Marlins’ Jacob Turner was able to compose himself and hold the Giants to just two hits – including Sandoval’s home run – over his next five innings of work. The lack of Marlins offense didn’t help Turner’s cause, and today’s loss continues his quest for a road win. Miami’s starter is now 0-7 over his last 12 starts away from Marlins Park.
In the fifth inning, Sandoval extended the early lead with his third home run of the season: a solo shot into the left field bleachers. The blast extended Sandoval’s hit streak to nine, which has been a relief in the wake of the Giants’ injured first baseman.
“His at-bats have really picked up. His point of contact has changed; he’s getting the barrel out in front a bit more, which helps him drive the ball more…he’s quieted down out there,” said Bochy. “When you lose a Belt, what has to happen is somebody else picks it up, and Pablo’s done that for us.
Sandoval has been able to raise his average to .220, up from the .189 mark he brought into this homestand. He has gone 14-for-34 during his nine game hit streak that began the day after Belt went down.
“You can see some signs from Pablo that he’s really starting to look like himself again,” said Posey.
Today’s win completes a 4-3 homestand with a series win against the Atlanta Braves and a split weekend matchup with the Marlins. It also completes a spread of 17-straight games without a break, which can take its toll on the players.
“This one was pretty tough because we played East Coast and then flew all the way back,” said Posey. “It felt like there should have been a day after the LA series, but you’re going to have one, or two, or three stints like this a year.”
“I like the way they handled the stretch. Some of them were out there almost every day, like Crawford, and Pence. There wasn’t ever a letup, but it’s a long stretch to go through everyday, to travel and the teams we played. They kept their focus, so I like where we’re at,” said Bochy.
San Francisco will have a day off before the orange and black travel to Colorado for a quick three game road trip. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, and potentially Tim Hudson will take on the Rockies this week.
Posey’s ninth caught stealing keeps him at second in the National League, trailing only Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pagan has a sprained shoulder, and Bochy says he’s day-to-day. He’ll be reevaluated on Tuesday in Colorado. The day off will be good for him, and it’s coming at a good time, as Bochy mentioned that a few of the guys really need the off-day.