Bochy plans lineup change after Giants lose to Cardinals, 2-0

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 2, 2014 - 11:34 pm
Last Modified: Saturday, Jul. 5, 2014 - 11:57 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- After allowing two runs in seven innings against the Cardinals but falling to 5-5 as the Giants failed to score for the third time in their last nine games, Ryan Vogelsong was asked what he thought of his stuff Wednesday night.

"It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a loss," Vogelsong said. "I’m tired of talking about stuff. It’s all about wins and losses now and getting to the playoffs. So it doesn’t matter what the stuff is. It’s about getting wins.

"I’m sorry, I don’t want to be … that’s just kind of how I feel. Just trying to be honest."

That succinctly, Vogelsong summed up another frustrating night as the Giants lost 2-0 to the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright to fall to 2-7 on their current 10-game homestand.

An optimist could look at the Dodgers’ loss to Cleveland today and point out the Giants still hold a half-game lead in the N.L. West. That same optimist could argue the Giants put together some good at-bats off Wainwright, one of the toughest pitchers in baseball who won his 11th game Wednesday, and just couldn’t get the big hit they needed.

The takeaway, though, is that the Giants have scored five runs just one time in their last 10 games. They’ve lost five of their last six games and 16 of their last 21. They haven’t scored a single run for Vogelsong in either of his past two starts, in which he has pitched 13 innings, walked one, struck out 15, allowed three runs -- and lost both times.

In response, manager Bruce Bochy said he’ll likely shake up his lineup Thursday with a new leadoff hitter, as the Giants try to avoid losing this series. Gregor Blanco, who went 0-for-4 in the leadoff spot Wednesday and is batting under .200 since taking over for the injured Angel Pagan in center field, will likely be dropped in the order.

Hunter Pence, meanwhile, is the likely candidate to bat first. Bochy said when Brandon Belt rejoins the team -- as is expected Friday -- that will allow him to bat Pence first and Belt second, and keep the rest of the lineup mostly as is.

"Gregor’s hit tough times," Bochy said. "A couple other guys, they’re a little cold. So it’s not one guy. But it does help when at the top of the order you can get some guys on and put a little pressure on them."

The Giants had one truly good scoring chance Wednesday, when Joe Panik and Hector Sanchez hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the eighth to knock Wainwright out of the game. But Blanco then popped out against reliever Pat Neshek to end the inning.

Still, as Bochy said, it’s not just one guy right now. The Giants had one hit from their 1-through-5 hitters Wednesday night -- Pence’s infield single in the ninth. Michael Morse went hitless in four at-bats and is 9 for his last 49. Brandon Crawford is 4 for his last 27. Buster Posey batted .362 in June and Pablo Sandoval has shown signs of heating up, but otherwise there has been little spark from the offense over the past couple weeks.

A breakthrough Wednesday was going to be a tall order anyway. Wainwright had a 1.16 ERA in June. Bochy said he did think the Giants "hit some decent balls at (fielders)," on Wednesday, and credited Wainwright’s ability to pitch out of jams. Not that he was in a lot of them -- the Giants had just one hit through the first five innings.

"It’s nice the guys are grinding out some at-bats," Bochy said. "But it’s all about putting some men on base, creating those chances, and somebody’s got to come through. We had two or three decent chances and couldn’t get the hit."

The hard-luck loser, for the second consecutive outing, was Vogelsong, who nonetheless refused to pin the loss on the lineup. "Just got to keep throwing the ball good and give us a chance," he said. "Those guys, they’ll start swinging it. They were swinging it before, they’ll start swinging it again.

"You go through this stuff," he continued. "You either get through it and get stronger, or you don’t get strong and you finish last. So we’ll get through it."

* Vogelsong didn’t want to talk about his individual outing, but Bochy was willing. After having three of his shakier outings in the middle of June, Vogelsong has put together two strong starts in a row. He allowed both runs Wednesday in the third, when the Cardinals strung together four hits, but allowed just one hit after that and struck out six over his last three innings.

"I thought his stuff was right there at the top of his game when he’s on," Bochy said.

One silver lining for the Giants on this homestand has been the outings of several starting pitchers -- Tim Lincecum has thrown 17 consecutive scoreless innings and Matt Cain had his first start of seven scoreless innings last week against the Reds. Vogelsong had a 5.08 ERA in June, but has thrown back-to-back quality starts for the first time since May.

"I think (the starters) hit a bump in the road, but it looks like they’re getting on track and we’re getting a bit more consistent with this rotation," Bochy said. "And that’s what it’s going to take for us to get on a roll."

* Regarding Blanco, Bochy said it looks like "Gregor has just gotten a little passive. He’s taking some pretty good pitches. And so we may back him off and see if we can change this a little bit to get things going early."

Revisiting Bochy’s comments before the game, Tyler Colvin could be another option in center field while Angel Pagan remains out. But the Giants re-signed Blanco for coverage in the event of just such an injury in the outfield, and it sounds like they’ll keep trying to jog his bat.

* Sergio Romo pitched the ninth inning in his first outing since being removed from the closer’s role and retired the side in order. Bochy pointed out it wasn’t exactly a foreign situation for Romo -- the ninth inning in a close game -- but said it looked like Romo had "a great focus."

* As we speak, the Triple-A Grizzlies and River Cats are still playing in the 15th inning in Sacramento. The night ended a long time ago, though, for Belt and also-rehabbing Ehire Adrianza. Belt went 2-for-4 in the game. Adrianza went 1-for-2.

* The Giants will try to avoid losing a third consecutive series Thursday behind Madison Bumgarner (9-5, 2.90). The Cardinals counter with right-hander Carlos Martinez (1-3, 4.13). First pitch at 12:45 p.m.


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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