SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants worked feverishly Monday night to exorcise demons from their just-completed 1-5 road trip, and they did lots of things right in an 8-0 thumping of the Washington Nationals. How then could a black cloud still have hovered over the team in the aftermath of such a victory?
Starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong suffered a fractured right hand after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning and will likely miss several weeks.
It was an unfathomable ending to a night that was shaping up as his best so far in 2013. He was throwing up zero after zero and providing the kind of effort that’s been missing far too often from San Francisco’s rotation. Now the Giants have a hole to fill on their starting staff. That answer is yet to come.
Offensively, the Giants enjoyed a terrific night. They banged out a season-high 17 hits and provided Vogelsong and early cushion, no doubt helping him settle in for as long as he was pitching. It was a team-wide rebound and a good start to a six-game homestand.
Starting pitching report
Vogelsong was enjoying the kind of start that could have helped turn around a terrible season to this point. He held the Nationals to just three hits over five innings, looking like a completely different pitcher from the one who stumbled through his first eight starts.
The right-hander retired his first eight hitters in order, pitching to contact and taking advantage of generous run support. He ended the top of the fourth by coaxing a 4-6-3 double play from Adam LaRoche. The fifth inning has been Vogelsong’s undoing all season – he came in having allowed 16 of his 44 runs in that frame.
The ingredients were there for another meltdown after Marco Scutaro booted an easy grounder for an error and Vogelsong walked the pitcher with two outs. But he retired Denard Span to end the inning and things were rolling along smoothly until his injury.
Vogelsong was sailing, and it looked like the relief corps was in for an easy night. The ‘pen wound up getting pressed into action early and responded. Javier Lopez, Jean Machi, Santiago Casilla and Jeremy Affeldt combined for four shutout innings.
At the plate
Bruce Bochy likes to talk about the need for his hitters to “keep the line moving.” That’s exactly what they did Monday, stringing together hits and coming through in RBI situations. The Giants racked up 14 hits through the first six innings alone, and six different players drove in the runs that built a 6-0 lead.
It’s been somewhat lost in San Francisco’s recent slide that first baseman Brandon Belt has swung the bat really well. He singled three times and homered Monday for his fourth career 4-hit game. He’s 14 for 34 (.412) over his past 11 games. Add in Andres Torres’ three hits, and the Giants’ 6-7 hitters went a combined 7 for 10 with five runs scored.
Marco Scutaro added two hits to extend his hitting streak to 18 games. Even Vogelsong got in on the act, executing a perfect safety squeeze bunt to score Belt in a three-run fourth inning that made it 5-0.
In the field
Scutaro’s eighth error of the season – tops among National League second basemen – was the only reminder of the trainwreck of a road trip the Giants just completed. It was the only error of the game. Angel Pagan made an adventure of a LaRoche fly ball to the wall in the second, but he hauled it in.
A crowd of 41,963 showed up, no doubt wondering if this was the same Giants team that fumbled its way to a 1-5 mark in Toronto and Colorado over the past week.
What’s not to like about a matchup of Matt Cain vs. Stephen Strasburg? Strasburg’s 2-5 record comes with a 2.83 ERA attached to it, so his season hasn’t been all that bad. Cain, 3-2 with a 5.43 ERA, is just looking for consistency. Tuesday’s first pitch is 7:15 p.m.