Today was one of the best-pitched games of this mostly forgettable season. Ryan Vogelsong struggled mightily before his injury (37 runs in 46-1/3 IP), but looks like he's returning to the championship form we know and love. The Pirates are a good club, and Vogie had them off-balance all afternoon. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale is known for a tight zone, and both Vogelsong and Pirates starter A.J. Burnett got squeezed on several close pitches. But no. 32 was brisk (2:42 game time) and efficient (98 pitches in eight innings) and only allowed two hits, an infield one to MVP-candidate Andrew McCutchen in the 7th, and a single to Andrew Lambo in the 3rd. Lambo walked with two outs in the 5th, but was gunned down by Buster Posey on a steal attempt. Those were the only blemishes, and that performance was good for a Game Score of 82. Burnett was also impressive, flashing a nasty curve ball that had the Giants frustrated and generated a lot of grounders. But they finally got to him in the 8th (should Clint Hurdle have gone to his 'pen sooner?) with a booming triple to right-center from Pablo Sandoval that would have been a three-run homer in most parks. The 1-0 nail-biter was suddenly 3-0, and we all breathed easier. Madison Bumgarner got burned the other night when the Giants could not generate a big hit. Joaquin Arias added to the fun and brought the Panda home with a searing two-out double down the LF line off reliever Tony Watson to make it 4-0. Sandy Rosario got the last three outs to preserve the win.
The Giants are 5th in the NL in triples, and 4th in doubles. I used to say I could live with a team that doesn't hit many homers if they can rack up extra bases with hard-hit balls. Alas, the 2013 Giants are so feeble--their 76 HR are second-from-last in the league and exactly half of the league-leading Atlanta Braves 152--it makes that statement pretty silly. That glaring lack of pop shows up in their second-from-last standing in both total bases and slugging percentage, and more significantly, third-from-the-bottom in runs scored. Yes, I know it's really about the pitching. The five best teams in the league have the five lowest ERAs (Pittsburgh, LA, Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis). The Giants are the fourth-worst in allowing runs. Only Philadelphia, San Diego, and Colorado are worse. It's a deadly combination. At least in 2009 and 2011 when the team couldn't hit they could keep it close with good pitching. A healthy Ryan Vogelsong should certainly help turn things around in 2014.
I know, don't get too excited about one start, right? The hell with that. I'm pretty excited about Vogie's effort today. It gave me flashbacks of his October heroics. Keep it going, man, keep it going.
p.s. I had this post all ready to go but for a few final edits when the power went out about 1630. It just came back at 1900. The thundershowers were heavy all day and they must have knocked a line down or zapped something at one of the substations. Power outages in Siskiyou County are surprisingly rare, and when they happen, they don't take long to get fixed. This is one of the longest I can remember in the 24 years we've been here. It's a big place--the fifth largest county by area in California--but one of the least populated, only 44,900 at the 2010 census. We could all fit in the Giants ballpark!