Ryan Vogelsong pitches San Francisco Giants to Game 7 of NLCS
In 2010, the Giants captured the World Championship without facing an elimination game.
On Sunday, the Giants’ faced their fifth of the 2012 postseason. Thanks to Ryan Vogelsong, they’ll face their sixth on Monday.
For the second time in this series, Vogelsong limited the Cardinals to a single run over seven outstanding innings of work. Following up the effort of Barry Zito in Game 5, Vogey even delivered an RBI to his cause as the Giants won 6-1 in Game 6 Sunday, forcing a deciding Game 7 on Monday.
Vogelsong set the tone early, striking out six of the first seven batters he faced. Then the offense did its part by giving him a 5-0 lead before Vogelsong would face the eighth Cardinal.
“I just tried to do really the same thing (Zito) did, come out and set the tone early for us,” Vogelsong said, referring to Zito’s performance in Game 5.
And he did, with the bat as well.
The Giants struck first with a run in the bottom of the first. After a walk to Marco Scutaro and a double by Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey’s infield grounder scored Scutaro with the first run.
In the second, with Brandon Belt on third and Brandon Crawford on first and one out, Vogelsong squared to bunt with Crawford taking off for second. Then Vogelsong pulled the bat back and hit a slow grounder to short.
Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, who had broken to cover second, changed direction to field the ball and dropped it, as Belt scored and the other two runners were safe.
“You try and put as much pressure on them as possible,” Belt said. “You put runners on base and push, and stuff like this happens. We’re doing the same thing we’ve been doing all season: Find some way to get on base, some way to get into scoring position and then some way to get home.”
After Angel Pagan struck out, Scutaro delivered another clutch hit, doubling to left to score Crawford from second and Vogelsong from first.
When asked how he felt after that, Vogelsong said: “Well, I was looking for the oxygen first.”
After Sandoval added an RBI single to make it 5-0 in the second, it was the Cardinals who looked like they were out of gas. Vogelsong kept going on strong, not allowing a hit to the Cardinals until the fifth inning.
The final numbers for Vogelsong: 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk and 9 strikeouts.
For the postseason, Vogelsong has given up three runs on 11 hits in 19 innings, for a 1.42 ERA.
And now it’s down to one game, as the Giants comeback magic continues.
They were down 0-2 to the Reds, needing to win three on the road to survive, and they di.
They were down 3-1 to the Cardinals, needing three wins to surviving, and they have achieved two of them.
When asked to explain the team’s resiliency, Giants GM Brian Sabean said: “I honestly don’t know. In some ways it’s just a human group dynamic. There’s an old saying in sports, it’s not how good you are, it’s how well you play. I don’t know if they love to win as much as they hate to lose.”
Well, the Giants aren’t alone in that description.
With Sunday’s win, the Giants became the eighth team to win five consecutive elimination games in postseason history. Three other teams have also won five: the Red Sox in 2007-08, the Dodgers in 1981, and the Athletics in 1972-73.
If you want good karma, all of those teams won World Series titles, except the 2008 Red Sox.
But to join those world champions, the Giants will have to win a sixth. And that would put them in a class with four other teams to win six in a row: the Tigers in a streak that extended from 1945 to 1972, the Twins in a streak that extended from 1987 to 2002, the 1985 Royals … and these Cardinals, who have six in a row dating back to last season.