He walked toward the dugout with his head down, but there was nothing symbolic about his posture.
That’s the way pitchers are supposed to appear as they leave the mound to a standing ovation, which on this very significant Wednesday afternoon, Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants deserved entirely.
Amend that to read Ryan Vogelsong, now 9-1 — yes, you are allowed to suggest adjectives such as remarkable and unbelievable, even if familiar would be more appropriate — and the still-in-first-place Giants.
Which they wouldn’t have been if Vogelsong hadn’t continued his excellence, and for the first time in a while, the Giants hitters hadn’t continued their ineffectiveness.
“This game to me,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, “was probably our biggest of the season to this point. We had to stop the bleeding.”
San Francisco had lost five in a row, including the first two games of a worrisome three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Scoring as many runs as they had combined for in the previous five games, the Giants blitzed the D’backs 8-1 before the obligatory sellout (53rd straight; this one 42,477) at AT&T Park.
Someone asked Bochy before Vogelsong’s first of 108 pitches — he was replaced in the seventh — why the manager thought the hitless Giants would indeed evolve into the hitting Giants.
“Because we have better guys in the lineup,” was the answer. He meant Carlos Beltran, Orlando Cabrera and Jeff Keppinger, added to Pablo Sandoval. Bochy was prescient.
Beltran had his first three-hit game in the week since he was obtained in a trade from the Mets, two singles and a sixth-inning triple. Cabrera doubled in a couple of runs and Keppinger and Sandoval each had two hits — Sandoval batting third ahead of Beltran, who hit cleanup.
“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy agreed, “we were in a little rut.”
For Vogelsong, the description would be groove. He’s now gone 10 home games in which he has allowed two runs or fewer and his 1.30 home ERA is the lowest in the majors.
“The guy on the hill,” Bochy said of Vogelsong, “set the tone. What a job he’s done. He’s got good stuff and throws hard. And he knows how to pitch with men on from all [the] years in the minors and Japan.”
Guillermo Mota took over for Vogelsong, faced six batters and struck out every one. Vogelsong had seven strikeouts in his six innings.
This game shows we’re capable of doing it,” said Bochy, an interesting observation about a team which is the World Series champion and has been in the division lead for weeks — although would have dropped behind Arizona with a defeat.
“It’s tough when you get in a losing streak, but I thought Aubrey [Huff, who had two hits] and a few fellows gained some confidence.
“Beltran? That’s why we got him. He helps us out, not only at bat but working with the others.”
The Giants, with two four-run innings, hadn’t scored as many as eight runs since they beat the Cubs, 13-7, on June 28. Yes, Vogelsong was the winner that day.
“I’m hoping a game like this one,” said Bochy about an offense which stopped being offensive, “will get this thing clicking.”
For a day, it didn’t so much click, as explode.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.