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.