AT&T PARK — Heading in to Monday’s matchup between the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals, a pitcher’s duel was expected.
Ryan Vogelsong never got the memo.
Vogelsong (L, 4-3, 3.84 ERA) entered with a 3-0 record and 2.05 ERA in his past four starts. Opposing pitcher and phenom Stephen Strasburg entered the contest giving up just 2 runs in his past 13 innings spanning two starts.
Instead, the Giants (42-22) allowed a total of nine runs, losing to Strasburg (W, 6-4, 2.99 ERA) and the Nationals 9-2 in the first game of the four-game set.
Strasburg on the other hand was filthy. He kept hitters off-balance, utilizing his change-up to the tune of 7 K’s in 6 IP, allowing just 4 hits and 1 ER.
The Nats (33-29) struck early and often, led by a career night from Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.
They scored a single run in the first and second, and put a two-spot up in the third. Each of the first four innings could be considered “high stress” for Vogelsong, with runners constantly swarming the base paths.
Desmond finished the night a home run short of the cycle with five RBI. The last time the Giants gave up a cycle was to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Kelly Johnson on July 23, 2010.
By the time Vogelsong settled in, it was the fifth inning, and his pitch count had started to creep up. He collected 6 Ks by his night’s end in 6+ innings.
Vogelsong was pulled after allowing baserunners to reach first and third in the seventh. He finished the night with 102 pitches, and gave up 9 hits.
Enter George Kontos, who promptly gave up a single to the heavily-bearded Jayson Werth. After a walk to Adam LaRoche loaded the bases, Ryan Zimmerman hit a weak grounder to Brandon Crawford at shortstop.
Crawford threw home, getting former Giant Kevin Frandsen at home before Buster Posey threw to first. The ball squirted away from Michael Morse, scoring Werth.
Kontos then allowed the floodgates to open, allowing five runs in the inning. Two of the five were charged to Vogelsong, the other three belonged to Kontos.
By the time “Don’t Stop Believing” echoed around AT&T, the bench was emptied and the crowd had started a journey towards the exits.
Even with fewer people in the stands, the crowd made themselves heard when the Giants started a rally in the bottom half of the eighth. The Giants strung four straight singles together, with Juan Perez scoring to plate just one run.
The Nationals are getting healthier with the recent additions of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche from the disabled list.
Of course, there is still one key player missing from their lineup in Bryce Harper. The Nats have the pitching to compete, but their offense this season has been lackluster, scoring just 256 runs entering Monday, ranking seventh in the NL.
When Harper returns, Washington could be the challenger in the NL that the Giants have been waiting on.
Angel Pagan made a pinch-hit appearance in the 9th, his status for tomorrow’s game is still unknown. … Ian Desmond’s five RBI are a new career high. … Former Giant Matt Williams (1987-1996) is in his first year as manager of the Washington Nationals. … The loss drops the Giants record against the NL East to 10-4. … Monday was the 288th consecutive sellout at AT&T Park.