San Francisco, CA -- At the start of this series, it was ostensible that a sweep would result in a tie for first place. Now one game back the Giants have the opportunity to change the direction of this ball club before the first half of this season ends.
Ryan Vogelsong took a page out of Barry Zito's book in shutting out the Dodgers 2-0 last night to prep Tim Lincecum for the sweep today. The memorable night when Mayor Ed Lee honored Matt Cain with a key to the city and declared June 13th as "Matt Cain" day for his perfect game.
Another historic event was the Giants' throwing back-to-back blanks to the Dodgers at home since August 15-16, 1987. Dave Dravecky bested Fernando Valenzuela and Mike LaCoss edged Tim Leary. But tonight Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was the latest shutout victim, ending his streak of 35 2/3 innings at AT&T Park without allowing an earned run.
"It's hard to do, especially against a good club," manager Bruce Bochy said of the back-to-back shutouts. "Our pitching has been right on this series. Vogey was tough today. That's hard to do and that's a credit to the staff, this bullpen."
The Dodgers who lead the division were 7 1/2 games ahead in the National League West last month and have since lost seven of their last eight games. They got swept in Oakland, lost the series to the Anaheim Angels and have already lost the series to San Francisco. Now, their in jeopardy of losing their first place spot.
"What am I suppose to say to that? was manager's Don Mattingly's reply when asked what he thinks of his offense. "Shutout two in a row, I can't say I love the way we swung the bats today."
"We're not going to salvage an entire road trip in one game. We stay the course, we know where we're at and what's going on. We've got teams going in one way and put hurt on them. It's our job to make sure we don't panic, you get shutout a couple of days in a row, frustration I think is normal."
For the Giants victory is normal, it was almost two years ago when the bullpen was outstanding and that led them to winning the World Series in 2010. Now the focus is just just one win at a time. And no one understands that more than Ryan. A harder worker who believes his best has yet to come. Though he's proven to be that winning pitcher, it's still not enough.
"I like having that chip on my shoulder," said Vogelsong. "Look at my track record, I never did close to anything on the major league level until last year. I heard questions all off-season. I had questions of whether I could do it again. That drives me, it really does."
Well, doubt no more, he threw seven shutout innings. Allowing seven hits, one walk and three strikeouts, improving his ERA to 1.47 in seven starts at home this season. Ryan tossed at least six innings in 14 straight games to start this year which is the longest streak by any Giants pitcher since Atlee Hammaker in 1983 (he recorded 21-straight starts).
The bullpen was just as good, both Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla pitched solid innings. The sellout crowd rose to their feet giving a standing ovation for the assumed victory bottom of the ninth inning. It's always a playoff like atmosphere when the Dodgers come to town.
"It's early, but it's not," Ryan explained. "This division can come down to one game, so every game is important."