Ryan Vogelsong was supposed to be a long reliever for this club and an occasional spot starter. Right now, he’s an ace.
Vogelsong finished off a spectacular May with six strong innings in a 3-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers that clinched a road sweep. The Giants went 5-2 on a tough trip through Denver and Milwaukee and now have won 11 of their last 13 games. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 road games.
Vogelsong picked up his fourth straight win after allowing just one run on six hits and no walks. He had a 1.14 ERA in five May starts, emphatically shaking off a rough April that had Vogelsong wondering about how long he might still be on the active roster.
Back-to-back two-out singles by Aramis Ramirez and Elian Herrera got the Brewers on the board first in the fourth inning, but that was all the damage done against Vogelsong. He crossed the 100-pitch mark in the sixth but saved a battered bullpen by getting an inning-ending double play on his 109th and final pitch.
With Nori Aoki on first and no outs in the fifth, Joe Panik jumped on a Mike Fiers fastball and launched it a half-dozen rows out to right. The homer was the third of the season for Panik, who had just one as a rookie.
Starting pitching report: This is important, so try to keep up. Vogelsong had a 9.31 ERA while sporting the Brian Wilsonesque beard. He has a 1.14 ERA since shaving. To be clear, I’m pro-beard at all times, but sometimes the numbers don’t lie.
Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland still has not allowed a run in the regular season. He had a clean seventh, blowing a 98 mph fastball past Martin Maldonado. Strickland may never go back to Triple-A Fresno.
At the plate: While watching Panik take an impressive round of BP this spring, a Giants coach brought up the missing power (Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse) and pointed out that Panik could make up for it with a bat that could eventually get into the double-digits in homers. The wait might not be a long one. After hitting his third homer Wednesday, Panik is on pace for 10. His high in the minors was seven homers.
In the field: Former prep pitching star Brandon Belt fired a strike to the plate to nail Khris Davis when he made an ill-advised attempt at scoring on Adam Lind’s grounder to the right side. Let him pitch in a blowout sometime, Bochy.
Up next: The Giants return home for four with the Atlanta Braves. They’ll see some tough pitching, starting with Thursday starter Shelby Miller (5-1, 1.50). Hard-throwing rookie Mike Foltynewicz (3-1, 4.25) starts Friday and Julio Teheran (4-2-4.91) gets the finale. The Giants counter with Heston, Hudson, Lincecum and Bumgarner.