By: Malaika Bobino
San Francisco, CA – It’s been a rocky road for starter Ryan Vogelsong. Struggling to find his rhythm and command on the mound has been a big concern. There have been talks of sending him down to the bullpen as the Giants did with two-time Cy Young Winner Tim Lincecum.
Coming into tonight’s game Vogelsong had the highest ERA 8.06 among the National League pitchers. This time he got off to a great start and handed the Washington Nationals a 8-0 shutout performance. After battling himself for months, Ryan threw 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
“It was a good win and it all started with the job that Vogelsong did,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Returning to his old form, Ryan’s night didn’t last long. His outing was cut short after he suffered a fractured right hand. He was struck on the hand while at-bat in the fifth inning and left the game immediately for x-rays.
“I felt it right away,” he explained. “That’s the best I felt in a long time, from a mental and physical aspect, everything, it felt good. It was nice to be able to get out there and have everything I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks, kind of fall into place. It’s a good place to start when I come back.”
Vogelsong is expected to be out at least six weeks. He will undergo surgery tomorrow. The injury was to his right pinkie which the right-handed pitcher described as a minor surgery compared to a “Tommy John”. After a complicated season to start, this is another unfortunate him.
“There were a lot of mechanical problems I had to fix, and it wasn’t just one, it was a few,” Ryan said. “I was lucky enough to have some really good coaches to help me out and Bochy’s patience meant a lot. It was nice to see the work I’ve been putting in translate into tonight’s game.”
The Giants batters recorded a season-high with 17 hits. This marked the most hits at AT&T Park since August 25, 2010 against Cincinnati. The offense got going early in the second frame when they took a 2-0 lead. Andres Torres’ RBI single and Brandon Crawford’s fielder choice scored in two runs.
The Nationals only threat came in the third when Vogelsong allowed back-to-back hits to Zach Duke and Denard Span. With two outs Steve Lombardozzi flew out to center fielder Angel Pagan to end the inning. That was the only time runners were in scoring position.
“I felt fine. Health-wise, stamina, I felt fine,” said Duke. “Unfortunately, I didn’t execute quite well enough. Missed some spots and ground balls made their way through.”
Zach’s night ended after 3.1 innings when San Francisco scored three more runs in the fourth. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout. Ryan’s sacrifice fly scored Belt, Pagan’s RBI double and Marco Scutaro’s RBI single gave the Giants a 5-0 lead.
“This was a tough one,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “Been in a lot of funny games, but going into that one being a couple of pitchers short was tough. I thought w did an adequate job. I had to really stretch out Henry.”
After a 1-5 road trip, San Francisco returned with an explosive offense. Brandon Belt went 4-for-5 with a solo home run and four runs scored. His four hits matched his career-high (fourth time) for four hits in one game.
“Obviously, I felt pretty good out there tonight,” Belt said. “It was nice to play in front our fans. They gave us a much needed boost tonight. I think it raised the intensity level and we played better because of it.”