Auditions go well for Vogelsong, Giants in win
With 2014 roles at stake, pitcher gets strong backing from offense
By Chris Haft /9/28/2013 3:46 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- A trio of Giants auditioning for spots on the 2014 Opening Day roster distinguished themselves in Friday night's 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Ryan Vogelsong ended his winless streak at five games, surrendering two runs in six innings. Opponents were batting .372 off Vogelsong with runners in scoring position entering the game. But the Padres were just 1-for-5 off him in those situations.
Juan Perez, who fits the profile of a backup outfielder, displayed versatility by hitting his first Major League home run during a 3-for-4 effort, assisting on a third-inning putout and making a diving catch of Jesus Guzman's sixth-inning line drive.
Tony Abreu, the utility infielder who has missed much of the season with left knee problems, kept compensating for lost time by going 3-for-5, raising his batting average for his past nine games to .387 (12-for-31).
The most compelling member of the group, though, was Vogelsong, largely because he has more at stake. The Giants must decide whether to pick up the $6.5 million option on his 2014 contract or pay him a $300,000 buyout. Declining the option and signing Vogelsong to a revised deal is another possibility.
"I'm going to go home and wait and see what happens," said Vogelsong, who wants to remain a Giant.
Earlier Friday, Giants general manager Brian Sabean offered no clues regarding Vogelsong's fate. Sabean is preoccupied with other issues, including signing impending free agents such as right fielder Hunter Pence, right-hander Tim Lincecum and left-hander Javier Lopez.
"We like Ryan, and we hope there's a place for him on next year's roster, but we're juggling a lot of balls here," Sabean said.
Retaining Vogelsong would be automatic had he performed better. San Francisco's leading winner in last year's postseason (3-0) entered Friday night's game saddled by ominous statistics. He owned a 5.90 ERA, opponents were hitting .372 off him with runners in scoring position and he had allowed righties to bat .330, the National League's second-highest figure.
"We really have to fill in the blanks with what went haywire with Vogey; he was so good for us last year," Sabean said, noting that other Giants also prompted questions about possible fatigue with their diminished performance following last year's World Series push. "The effort they put forth, and the kind of energy they expended, you wonder the residual effect not only into this year but next year."
Returning specifically to Vogelsong, Sabean added: "He's got some mileage. But this guy's a warrior. He's forever found a way to reinvent himself. If anybody should get a pass on what didn't go right this year, it's certainly him."
Vogelsong (4-6) endured a shaky first inning, permitting three hits. But he struck out Guzman to strand two runners and limit San Diego to a single run. Thereafter, Vogelsong allowed only two hits.
"I've told you guys before that I've had trouble with my delivery," Vogelsong said. "I've been fighting it all year. Tonight was a little better."
The Giants victimized Padres starter Burch Smith (1-3) with three home runs. Perez lined a two-run, two-out drive over the left-field barrier in the second inning. Brandon Belt followed Abreu's third-inning leadoff single with his 17th homer of the season. One out later, Pence, honored before the game with the Willie Mac Award as the Giants' most inspirational player, hit his career-high 26th homer.
San Francisco added a run in the sixth as reliever Tommy Layne walked Gregor Blanco with two outs and the bases loaded. Blanco later drove in Perez with an eighth-inning triple.
With their victory and Colorado's loss at Los Angeles, the Giants guaranteed themselves of avoiding a last-place finish in the National League West, which would have made dubious history. The 1998 Marlins remained the only team to finish last one season after winning the World Series. San Francisco also pulled into a third-place tie in the division standings with San Diego at 75-85.