SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong is an emotional pitcher who doesn’t like to show those emotions on the mound. But in this instance, he couldn’t help himself.
With a chance to escape a two-on, two-out jam in the third, Vogelsong got Eric Hosmer to hit a slow chopper to the right side. Brandon Belt fielded it, looked to second base, saw he didn’t have a play, turned and threw to Vogelsong covering first. Only Vogelsong had not quite located the bag, and as he jabbed for it with his foot, Hosmer beat him to it.
Vogelsong flung his arm out in disgust. In the Giants’ dugout, manager Bruce Bochy took off his hat and whipped against the railing. It allowed the Royals’ first run to score and prolonged an inning in which Vogelsong threw 34 pitches and could not record the third out. He walked off the mound trailing 4-1, all the more frustrated because, as the right-hander said later, “I had great stuff.”
“That’s the best I’ve felt in a while,” Vogelsong said. “That’s why that inning, giving up four runs, that’s tough to take. I was locating pitches. That’s the first time I can remember being on the mound and having all four pitches working for me in a while.”
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And that’s also the reason that Vogelsong said he intends to pay a visit first thing Sundaymorning to Bochy’s office in the Giants’ clubhouse, with a straightforward message for his manager.
“I’m going to be the first one in his office, telling him I want to be in the bullpen the rest of the way,” he said. “I feel pretty confident with the stuff I had out there tonight.”
Vogelsong threw 62 pitches before exiting in the third. With Vogelsong watching from his locker in full uniform, as is his custom, the Giants rallied for an 11-4 win to ensure there will be at least two more games in this World Series. And Vogelsong wanted it made clear he considers himself an option if the Giants need him again.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I don’t care if I threw 100 (pitches). I’d tell them I was good for the next two days.”
Vogelsong’s line Saturday belied the fact he and Bochy both thought he was making good pitches. That, Bochy said, is why he reacted with such visible emotion after the Hosmer play.
“I just felt for him,” Bochy said. “I mean, this guy was making great pitches, and we couldn’t get that last out. I think if he gets out of that inning, he throws a nice game for us. He had buzzard luck, and there’s not much you can do about it.”
That was a theme for Vogelsong for much of the regular season, whether it was lack of run support or outings in which a handful of bad pitches or breaks nullified an otherwise solid outing. On this night, he might have been out of the third inning on a slow Lorenzo Cain chopper, if it wasn’t so slow that Cain beat Brandon Crawford’s throw to first by a half-step. He might have escaped on Hosmer’s grounder, if it hadn’t bounced into an area that made it an awkward play for both Belt and Vogelsong.
“It was just weird angles,” said Belt, who said that off the bat he thought his only play might be to second base. “I was playing up, we both went for the ball, (he had) a weird route to first base. And it just got crazy over there.”
Said Vogelsong: “Everything kind of went wrong on that play. I went after it really hard and didn’t get there. That kind of screwed up the timing going to the bag. I saw him pick it up and glance at second. Obviously I’ve got to keep going to the bag, and I think just that slight little hesitation muffed up the timing a little more.”
But despite his initial reaction to the play, Vogelsong after the game seemed to be more miffed about his outing than frustrated. One reason was that, as he kept repeating: “I was pretty locked in tonight.” Another was the outcome, the 11-4 win that evened the World Series against the Royals.
“They picked me up,” Vogelsong said of his teammates, particularly the Giants’ lineup. “That’s what good teams do. I know that’s a cliché. But if you give up four, you’d better find a way to score five.
“You can’t say enough about the job (Yusmeiro) Petit did. And you can’t forget about (Jean) Machi. He came in there in a tough situation, you could tell he wasn’t sharp. But he found a way to make a pitch on the pitcher there and stop the bleeding.”
Machi replaced Vogelsong in the third and struck out opposing pitcher Jason Vargas in a full count to keep the deficit at 4-1. It was not the way Vogelsong likely pictured his start going. But the ensuing comeback increased the possibility that he could pitch again in the Series. It’s unlikely -- but just in case, Vogelsong made it clear he’ll be ready.
▪ There were so many twists in this game, which clocked in at four hours exactly, and the game story touches on the most prominent: Petit’s outing and an offensive barrage that saw the Giants score nine runs over three innings, total 16 hits by 11 different players and tag the Royals bullpen for one fewer run (eight) in four innings than it had allowed in the entire postseason before Saturday.
Some notes on the offensive output: It was the fourth time in franchise history and first since 2002 that the Giants have had at least 16 hits in a World Series game. Thirteen of the hits were singles, marking the first time since 2001 that a team had that many singles in a World Series game. And it was the first time in nearly a century -- since Game 3 of the 1921 Series -- the Giants had totaled 13 or more singles in the Fall Classic.
▪ Pablo Sandoval had two hits, including the go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth, both of them batting right-handed. It came after Sandoval had struck out batting right-handed in his first two at-bats, and Belt pointed to that as a pivotal point in the game.
▪ Clutch hitter,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “We all know the difference between right and left-handed averages. He was just clutch right there. He did a great job of hitting the ball right up the middle with the bases loaded, and it was just a great at-bat. Won the ballgame for them.”
▪ Posey scored from second on Sandoval’s single and showed about as much emotion as you’ll ever see from him by pumping his left fist while popping up from his slide. Asked about the play afterward, Posey said with a small grin:
“I’ve been thrown out at home too much in the playoffs. So I was just trying to get a good jump.”
▪ Sandoval is now 14-for-37 (.378) with eight RBIs in nine career World Series games. In this one, he was dealing with the residual effects of an illness, though Bochy said he’d been feeling worse the night before.
“I was a little concerned about him maybe being a little washed out today,” Bochy said. “But he goes out there and has a great game for us … He seems to rise to the occasion when you need him.”
▪ Bochy’s move to start Juan Perez in left field instead of Travis Ishikawa (and Michael Morse) looked like a good one after Perez had a couple of good at-bats -- including one sacrifice fly in the fifth that could have been more had Jarrod Dyson not made a diving catch in center -- and made a running catch himself in left field in the later innings.
Bochy said afterward he is “leaning toward” having Ishikawa back in the lineup against right-hander James Shields in Game 5.
“But Perez, I think he’s really starting to feel a lot more comfortable. His confidence has grown quite a bit. So I’ll think on this, on the lineup tomorrow. Both of them have done a nice job.”
▪ This Series is now a best-of-three, and with the swings it has already taken through the first four games, is it a stretch to think it might go the distance?
“Somewhere inside of me, secretly I had hoped that it would go seven games for the excitement and the thrill of it,” Yost said. “Sure looks that way.”
Not sure Yost was feeling that way when the Royals led by three early in Game 4, with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead. Now it’s 2-2, a situation the Royals have been in only once in their history -- in 1980. The Royals lost Game 5 that year and the Series in six games. The Giants, meanwhile, have been tied 2-2 in the World Series seven previous times -- and gone on to win the series just once, in 1921.
Something has to give there. And if the first four games of this series are any indication, it’s going to be entertaining to see how it plays out.
“I’ve never felt so good about getting my tail whooped in my life, because I’m sitting here thinking it’s Game 4, it’s tied 2-2, this is a phenomenal series,” Yost said. “It’s exciting. It’s fun, and we’ve got another great game tomorrow that we get to play.”
“These are exciting games,” said Bochy. “This was a great ballgame, I thought, especially the way we came back. So I enjoyed it. Do I wish it would go seven? If I had my choice -- but the way these two teams go at it, it wouldn’t surprise me.”
It’s a matchup of aces Sunday in Madison Bumgarner and James Shields. First pitch at 5:07 p.m.