I’m not sure why I didn’t think to write about Hunter Pence clutching his left side last night as he rounded first. I guess I just always assume Pence’s muscles will regenerate like salamander tails, but like every other Giants outfielder of note, he’s over 30 years old. The Giants learned the results of Pence’s MRI at some point during the evening, and he’ll be heading to the disabled list.
The Giants can’t really look at the Cardinals and complain. They’re without Jason Heyward, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Adam Wainwright and Matt Adams, and they have the best record in the majors. So, tonight, the Giants didn’t. Ryan Vogelsong pitched one of his best games of the year, six innings with just two hits and one walk allowed, and that’s how the Giants won the second game of this series despite scoring only one more run than the night before.
When Pence wasn’t included in Tuesday night’s lineup, it was only natural to look at this season and wonder if the Giants are getting odd-yeared right before our eyes. They get Nori Aoki back, they lose Nori Aoki. Joe Panik becomes a star, they lose Joe Panik. They trade for Mike Leake, they immediately lose Mike Leake. Hunter Pence used to be invincible, Hunter Pence is no longer invincible.
It’s only right that it was Vogelsong carried them to a 2-0 win with a lineup that included Kelby Tomlinson, Ryan Lollis and Justin Maxwell at the bottom of the order. Why? Because in that video above, Pence asked Vogelsong to give a speech. Vogelsong kept it short and sweet.
“Are we a team with some big balls? YES! YES! YES!”
The Giants have done it again. They have the fourth-highest payroll in Major League Baseball, and they’re somehow the scrappy team that has to get by on minor league call-ups and a supposed sixth starter in Vogelsong who damn near signed with the Astros until some weirdness happened in Houston and the Giants pounced. What if they hadn’t?
This is where WAR should get some scrutiny. Baseball-Reference has Vogelsong at -0.1 heading into Tuesday’s game. Fangraphs had Vogelsong at -0.4. But the guy has been an emergency starter, an emergency reliever, his ERA is under 4.00, and he’s the only starter other than Madison Bumgarner or Chris Heston to avoid the disabled list. That’s worth at least a couple “wins above replacement,” regardless of FIP or HR/9, right? It doesn’t matter anyway, because the Giants have won his last two starts.
— Vogelsong since the Giants made him a starter once again: 15 innings, 2.40 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 19 strikeouts.
— Up until recently, I never thought MLB would consider making a change within the next five years, but with strike zones like Hunter Wendelstedt’s looking like the norm, the movement toward “robot umps” (strikes and balls called via PitchFX) is starting to ramp up really quickly.
— Bumgarner had a pinch-hit single. Pitchers have to really fear him now, right? He’d be one of the best hitters on the Mets, and they’re probably going to the postseason. Hell, he’d be one of the Cardinals’ better hitters right now.
— How many fly balls have the Giants hit to the warning track over the last two nights? Does Busch Stadium have some sort of jetstream that sends roaring winds toward home plate whenever one of their pitchers grooves one?
— The Giants bullpen came through with three more scoreless innings, and the only thing they allowed was Javier Lopez’s leadoff walk in the ninth. Since the All-Star Break: 2.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP. Josh Osich is a keeper, but we already knew that. Sergio Romo is straight filthy right now. Santiago Casilla’s mere presence terrified everyone when he came in with a runner on first in the ninth, and he did just fine. A lot of people think Hunter Strickland should be the closer. The bullpen is fine. Now if they can just get Leake and some of these starting position players back sometime soon …
— The A’s beat the Dodgers 5-4 in the 10th when Billy Butler’s double scored Rick Tittle’s favorite player. The Giants are just two back with 43 left to play.