Ryan Vogelsong couldn’t quite follow in the steps of his fellow starters on Saturday. He surrendered five runs on nine hits to a dangerous St.Louis Cardinals offense in 5.1 innings.
Vogelsong had his bright spots, but his 2013 season-debut won’t be remembered as a good one, as the Giants lost 6-3.
Carlos Beltran’s two-run, two out single in the fifth inning marked the biggest of St.Louis’s nine hits off Vogelsong.
The Giants offense, despite two home runs, couldn’t overcome the deficit. The home runs were indeed a surprise, but they failed to hit with runners in scoring position, again.
Starting Pitching: Vogelsong Struggles With Command
Vogelsong only walked two batters over his 5.1 innings of work, but walks weren’t the problem. Missed his spots and one bad inning, well, was.
And if you want to pin-point one particular player who made Vogelsong pay for his mistakes, it would be Carlos Beltran. He chipped a decent changeup from Vogelsong into right field to plate St.Louis’s first run in the first inning, and four innings later, he slashed a two-run single off Vogelsong.
Vogelsong looked particularly “off” in the first. He didn’t surrender any loud contact outs or walk multiple batters (just one actually). As mentioned, Beltran threw his bat at a pitch that was heading out of the zone, and a few batters earlier, Matt Carpenter reached on a swinging bunt in no man’s land. Still, Vogelsong needed 28 pitches to escape the first.
Of course, a passed ball and a wild pitch, which advanced Craig from first to second and from second to third was a disservice. Had Craig been on second when Beltran hit his blooper, he probably would’ve gotten the stop sign from his third base coach.
Vogelsong cruised through innings two, three and four. He pitched a perfect third inning and a perfect fourth inning, needing only 13 pitches and seven pitches to retire the side, respectively. At one point he had retired eight consecutive batters.
Then came the fifth inning.
Pete Kozma sharply sliced a high fastball from Vogelsong, who would retire the next two batters before the Cardinals manufactured a classic two-out rally.
The events unraveled as followed: Carpenter walked, Matt Holliday drove in Kozma, Craig singled and Beltran plated both Carpenter and Holliday to supply the Cardinals with a 4-2 lead. Even Yadier Molina smashed a Vogelsong changeup onto the warning track only to have Blanco settle under it to end the inning.
And to finally chase Vogelsong from the game, Kozma lined an RBI single to left field in the sixth inning to make the score 5-2. Vogelsong would depart after striking out the pitcher, Shelby Miller.
Hitting: Long Ball Keeps the Giants Close
Yeah, the home-run ball kept the Giants close. Didn’t think you’d hear that before, right?
But I’m not lying. Hunter Pence crushed a 91 MPH fastball from Miller into the right center field bleachers to even the score at one in the second inning. And in the eighth, Pablo Sandoval hit an opposite field home run off Edward Mujica to decrease the deficit to two runs.
Outside of the long ball, though, the Giants didn’t create much noise. In fact, their only non-home-run run came in the third inning when Sandoval singled home Angel Pagan. It didn’t mean much at the time, but Sandoval’s two-out hit ended the Giants no hits with runners in scoring position and two outs streak.
Otherwise, San Francisco’s hits were mostly scattered. They went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and left eight runners on base.
Buster Posey and Marco Scutaro, whom are both struggling, each had a hit apiece. Scutaro lined a one-hopper off Craig’s glove in the first inning and Posey doubled off the brick wall in the eighth inning following Sandoval’s blast. Pagan had two hits as well.
As for a Brandon Belt updated, well, the box score won’t do him much justice. However, I can say with confidence that Belt hit the ball hard on Saturday. He just couldn’t catch a break on two hard hit line drives. So it goes for the MLB’s best spring training hitter.
The Giants had a rally in the sixth inning thanks to a pair of walks by Pence and Belt. Miller was summoned for lefty specialist, Randy Choate, after walking Belt. Manager Bruce Bochy countered with the right-handed hitting Joaquin Arias, who, like Belt, hit into bad luck. He smashed a line drive down the first base line, but the first baseman laid out to made the snag, ending the threat.
Bullpen: George Kontos Shines
George Kontos pitched two perfect innings in relief. Jose Mijares relieved Vogelsong in the sixth to collect two outs, and Kontos relieved him in.
Javier Lopez replaced Kontos in the ninth, and he failed to execute. He allowed a single to his first batter (Shane Robinson) and Carpenter singled Robinson home two batters later. Santiago Casilla ended the threat by inducing a double play ground ball to Holliday .