Giants

Notes: Old friend Vogelsong can help Giants on Sunday

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Notes: Old friend Vogelsong can help Giants on Sunday

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants know Ryan Vogelsong well enough to know that it doesn’t matter what’s at stake Sunday. The glare would be on Vogelsong’s face no matter the opponent. The will to win would be there no matter the date.

Still, just in case … 

“I was talking to Buster, and we said we should send him some enchiladas,” shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “Just order some up and send them to his hotel room in St. Louis.”

Vogelsong, now with the Pirates, will face the Cardinals on Sunday at Busch Stadium. The Giants and Dodgers will get going 10 minutes earlier at AT&T Park, and the Giants need just one more win to clinch a postseason spot. If they can’t finish the sweep, however, they’re hoping to get some help from an old friend. If Vogelsong beats the Cardinals, the Giants will be in the postseason regardless of what they do.

It’s a peculiar position for a player who hoped to return to San Francisco this season. Vogelsong helped the Giants to two titles, and now he has a chance to help them clinch a trip to New York for Wednesday’s wild card game. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could have started a young prospect, but he told MLB.com that he chose Vogelsong out of respect for competition. 

"Ryan's buy-in is going to be bigger than anybody else's buy-in in that clubhouse to go out and pitch a good ballgame,” Hurdle said. 

Vogelsong, 39, told CSN Bay Area in August that he’s committed to playing next season. He has struggled down the stretch and he had an 8.72 ERA in September, so the start represents one final chance to put up a solid box score before the offseason. 

The Giants will have one eye on Vogelsong and the Cardinals, but to a man they said the only goal Sunday is to win it at AT&T Park. Several Giants did, however, send Vogelsong text messages on Saturday afternoon. 

“I’m going to tell him I love him, and then I’m going to tell him to bring his A-game,” George Kontos said. 

Second baseman Joe Panik didn’t play with Vogelsong as long as most of the clubhouse, but he joked that he might reach out anyway with a simple, “Hey, Ryan … we’re thinking about you.” 

“Seriously, though, if someone from Pittsburgh is going to be in that situation, I want it to be him,” Panik said. 

Crawford agreed. He wasn’t sure if he would actually send a text to Vogelsong, who famously starts to lock in the day before a start, but Crawford does know that extra motivation isn’t necessary. 

“He’s going to go out and try to win, because that’s what he does every single start,” Crawford said. 

--- From earlier, here’s my game story on Ty Blach’s big day at the park. And, this seems a good time to note that Blach was on my podcast last month talking about his call-up. You can listen to him here. 

Thanks in large part to Blach, the math tomorrow is pretty simple. If the Giants win, they’re in. If they lose and the Cardinals win, the teams will play Monday night in St. Louis. If both teams lose, the Giants are headed to New York to face Noah Syndergaard.

--- Vin Scully was taken through the lower concourse on a golf cart after the game, and he got a loud ovation from Giants fans. He tried to stop the cart as he passed the clubhouse because he saw Buster Posey. He reached out and shook hands with the catcher. A reminder: CSN Bay Area will carry Scully’s call during the third inning of tomorrow’s broadcast. 

In case you missed it, Jon Miller was on my podcast to tell stories about Scully. 

As they head home for long stretch, Giants get a solid win over Dodgers

As they head home for long stretch, Giants get a solid win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — While dealing with multiple concussions, Brandon Belt was often forced to sit peacefully in a dark room to avoid noise and light. This latest DL stint also included some sitting in a room, but this time the focus was on visualization. 

Belt said he sat down and repeatedly told himself that he would be fine physically when he returned from an appendectomy. He needed to trust his body and his approach, and in his first at-bat back, he got validation. Belt flied out to the track in the second inning Saturday night. A day later, he cleared the wall, giving Chris Stratton insurance that would hold up in a 4-1 win over the Dodgers. 

The homer was Belt’s 12th of the season and 110th in the big leagues. It was his first without an appendix, and it came after no rehab games. 

“I knew I felt alright,” he said.”I didn’t need (rehab games). I guess there’s always a concern when you come back and try to be up to speed, but the way I felt in the cage, I figured I would be alright.”

Belt’s blast was the second of just three hits for the Giants, but they didn’t need any more than that. Nick Hundley had a two-run shot himself and Stratton battled without his best stuff, throwing six innings for a staff that needed a boost in the worst way. 

For the third time on this trip, the Giants won before taking a flight. This one is a short one and will get them back home, where they are 19-11 this season. The winning clubhouse was full of players and coaches eager to get away from hotels. 

“It’s awesome,” Belt said. “We’re through our toughest part of the schedule, I believe.”

The Giants have played 42 games on the road, the most in the majors. They’re just 16-26 away from home, and Bruce Bochy has said repeatedly that the team needs to play better on the road to have a chance at the postseason. But thats a goal the Giants can focus on in a couple of weeks. For now, they’re starting a stretch where they’ll play 20 of 26 at home. Those six road games are nearby — in Phoenix and Denver — and the three “road” games after this 26-game run are in Oakland. 

The Giants will spend just six nights away from their home beds from now until July 23. In other words, it’s go time. Despite their issues, they are just 4 1/2 games out in the National League West. This upcoming stretch will determine if they are a real contender, and could determine whether or not the front office is selling at the deadline. 

“We have a very, very good home field advantage with our fans and how well we’ve played at AT&T Park,” Hundley said. “If we’re going to win the division, we have to win at home. We know that, and we expect to win at AT&T Park and we’ll carry that confidence over to the next series.”

Belt, Hundley power Giants past Dodgers to avoid sweep in LA

Belt, Hundley power Giants past Dodgers to avoid sweep in LA

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Giants sure know how to clinch a happy flight. 

This was a road trip that should have been better, but at the very least, the players made sure they didn’t have any depressing travel experiences. They beat Max Scherzer on getaway day in Washington D.C. and won a 16-inning game on the final day in Miami. Before flying back to San Francisco for a 10-game homestand, they toppled the Dodgers 4-1 to avoid a sweep and finish the trip at 5-5. 

After scoring two-or-fewer runs in 11 consecutive games at Dodger Stadium, the Giants got to four in the first three innings Sunday. Here’s how it all went down … 

—The Giants had just two hits in five innings against lefty Caleb Ferguson. Luckily, one was a two-run homer from Nick Hundley and the other was a two-run homer from Brandon Belt. Hundley’s homer was his eighth, giving him twice as many as Buster Posey. Belt’s homer was his team-leading 12th, and first since having his appendix removed. 

— Chris Stratton gave up plenty of loud outs, but got through it. He ended up allowing just one run on three hits in six innings. The Giants have won six of Stratton’s last seven starts. 

— Quietly, Will Smith has been outstanding. He lowered his ERA to 0.96 after striking out Cody Bellinger and Yasmani Grandal and getting Yasiel Puig to fly out to right.