The Washington Nationals were careful not to sneer, when the name of San Francisco Giants’ starting pitcher, Ryan Vogelsong, came up, prior to the start of Game 4 of the National League Division Series. They were oh-so-polite about the whole affair, but seriously, the guy was 0-1, with a 7.15 ERA in two starts this season, and 1-2, lifetime, with a 6.16 ERA against the club from our nation’s capital. The only award he’ll ever win, they thought to themselves, was in intimidation stare-downs. And he’ll get the gold medal.
Vogelsong, 37, was winless in July and September, and had been vedging on the Group W bench for the past ten days. He had been biding his time and doing whatever it is that forgotten starting pitchers do, waiting for the next time out, possibly wondering if there was to be a next time out, and what that would look like.
He demonstrated to the entire baseball world exactly what that resembled, and lo and behold, out stepped the Ryan Vogelsong of the 2012 Playoffs, he of the 3-0 record, with a 1.09 ERA and twenty-one strikeouts. All Vogelsong did Tuesday night in front of a frenetic AT&T Park, was take a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and hold the club with the National League’s best record to one run, on two hits, over five-and-two-thirds innings.
It gave the Giants the opportunity to put two runs on the board on a bases-loaded walk, and a grounder to the right side. It was kind of embarrassing, you know, not like Bryce Harper’s explosive splash hit in the top of the seventh inning, off of Hunter Strickland, but it would have to do. Later, they would score a third run on a wild pitch, further increasing their discomfort, but what’s you going to do?
Vogelsong’s stellar effort was another example of the clutch pitching the Giants have had throughout the 2014 Playoffs. After shutting out the volatile Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card showdown, the Giants limited the mighty Nats to nine runs in four games, beating them in three, one-run contests.
With the pitching staff the Nationals sported this season, they hesitated to hint that actually playing out Tuesday’s game, could be foregone, in order to just save time and get on back to Washington, so that the Nationals’ celebratory party could commence.
The rest is history, of course, and a lesson to the Nationals that it pays to learn your history so as not to allow it to repeat itself.
Ryan Vogelsong made his statement so loudly and clearly, that this time I think the lesson “took.”