SAN FRANCISCO –- Whether it was a tarp malfunction at Wrigley Field or run support as barren as the Atacama Desert or the bullpen stumbling, Ryan Vogelsong had all manner of misfortune happen on his day to pitch this season.
He had one more Eeyore moment in the Giants’ 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres Friday night, and it came against the last batter he faced in his final regular-season start.
Immediately after the Padres snapped a tie in the sixth inning, Vogelsong buried a fastball down and in. But backup catcher Rene Rivera’s bat splintered as he hucked a dying flare into shallow left field for a two-run single.
That ended Vogelsong’s night and left him with four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings. And those final two runs on a broken-bat hit nudged his season ERA to 3.996 – which, cruelly, will be rounded up to 4.00 on the back of his baseball card, if they still do that sort of thing.
Oh, and that run support issue hung around, too. For the 17th time in his 32 starts, the Giants couldn’t do better than score one run for Vogelsong. And they needed an error to give him that much.
The loss, combined with the Pirates and Cardinals winning, ensured that the Giants will be the road team in Wednesday’s wild card game. Now they’ll just wait to find out whether their bag tags will read PIT or STL.
Starting pitching report
Seth Smith already had crushed an RBI double off the top of the right field arcade to give the Padres a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Vogelsong faced Rivera to bring a sour end to his regular season.
Before the three-run sixth inning, though, Vogelsong was making an impressive audition to be selected over Tim Hudson, Yusmeiro Petit or even Tim Lincecum as the No.2 starter in a potential NL Division Series. (Jake Peavy undoubtedly would pitch Game 1 and the Giants could bring back Madison Bumgarner in Game 3).
Vogelsong allowed a run in the first inning after a passed ball and an infield single, then he retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. He walked two and struck out five in his 5 1/3 innings.
He ended the year with an 8-13 record and was just 1-7 in 14 starts against NL West teams. Notably, though, the Giants gave him one run of support or less in 17 of his 32 starts.
Rivera, by the way, has 43 RBI this season and 12 have come in just seven games against the Giants. It’s Scott Hairston all over again.
George Kontos saved Vogelsong an additional run. He struck out Alexi Amarista, issued an intentional walk, then got Kennedy to strike out to strand a runner in the sixth.
Javier Lopez, who had retired just one of five batters over his previous two outings, righted himself by getting three ground outs in the seventh inning – an important development, given how significant a bullpen piece he’s proven to be in two postseason marches.
Juan Gutierrez and Erik Cordier each tossed a scoreless inning.
At the plate
Kennedy completed a solid year for a non-contender, reaching 200 innings and 200 strikeouts while finishing 13-13 with a 3.63 ERA.
The Giants, who let Buster Posey rest an ailing back, needed an error to score their only run in seven innings against Kennedy. Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence singled in the second inning before Andrew Susac sent a one-out roller to shortstop. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko tried to make a quick turn and ended up fumbling the feed to load the bases. Brandon Crawford followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-1.
The Giants threatened in the fourth inning and Susac hit a flare to left field with two runners on base. But Seth Smith made a shoestring catch and Crawford grounded out. Travis Ishikawa and Susac struck out looking to strand two in the sixth.
At least Belt had another encouraging game, collecting two singles and a walk.
Padres third baseman Cory Spangenberg made a diving play to his left and recovered in time to throw out Joe Panik in the first inning.
With an official crowd of 41,926, the Giants extended their streak of announcing sellouts to 324 consecutive regular-season home games.
The Giants and Padres continue their four-game series at AT&T Park on Saturday. Jake Peavy (6-4. 2.20 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound against Padres left-hander Eric Stults (8-17, 4.42). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.