|Ryan Vogelsong pitches 5 2/3 shutout innings and picks up the 2-0 win in Game 3. (US Presswire)|
DETROIT -- Though he didn't have his best stuff, Ryan Vogelsong pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and picked up the 2-0 victory in Game 3 of the 2012 World Series, helping to push the Giants to the brink of a championship with a three-games-to-zero lead in the best-of-7 series.
Vogelsong needed a bit of good fortune -- two inning-ending double play balls that were hit right to defenders -- good defense behind him and, yes, some big pitches.
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"I didn't think my stuff was as good as it was in the NLCS," he admitted afterward. "I didn't think I was as sharp as I wanted to be, but when the guys are playing deep like that behind you, it encourages you to try and get the guys to hit the ball in play. I definitely wasn't happy with walking ‑‑ I think I walked four. But I wasn't happy about that."
Still, he battled through and still allowed zero runs by -- in the popular phrasing of pitchers and managers -- making pitches.
Perhaps his biggest pitch? A two-seam fastball to coax a popup off the bat of baseball's best hitter, Miguel Cabrera, leaving the bases loaded in the fifth inning. It was the Tigers most serious threat to score runs, and Vogelsong got the biggest out of the game.
"He's got that ability to keep his poise and slow things down, pitch at a time, as we say, and execute, and that's what he did in that situation," said manager Bruce Bochy.
"I was just trying to make a pitch," Vogelsong said. "The way we were playing defense, really just trying to get him to put a ball in play somewhere, because I had a good feeling we were going to catch it if he did, with the way these guys were all over the field tonight."
And with the outing now in the books, Vogelsong is putting together quite the sparkling postseason. Heading into this season, he had never pitched in the playoffs. He now has four postseason starts under his belt.
His postseason line, after Game 3: 3-0, 1.09 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 21 strikeouts, 24 2/3 innings pitched. That's ace-quality.
Much has been written and said about Vogelsong's long career journey, as he was demoted to Triple-A in 2006, then played in Japan from 2007-10 before beginning the 2011 season with Triple-A Fresno. Still, it's worth reiterating that journey teamed with the fact that the 35-year-old is now pitching like an ace en route to a possible World Series championship.
"With Ryan we know what he's been through and the kind of person he is," Tim Lincecum said. He's that kind of guy that's just going to leave it out there on the field, give you everything he's got, give you the shirt off his back if he has to. That just speaks a lot about him and just fortunate I get to be his teammate."
Lincecum isn't the only one feeling fortunate in this situation, either.
"It's my first World Series," said Vogelsong. "I've been waiting for this since I was five years old, and I wasn't going to go down without a fight, that's for sure."
He fought. He won. And now the Giants need only one more win to take home their second World Series championship in the span of three seasons.