Posey punishes Padres with soaring grand slam

Chances were Buster Posey would be the man of the night. He entered Wednesday’s game hitting .405 with three RBI against Padres starter Ian Kennedy.

But, there stood a possibility his bat would be crippled by the AT&T scoring curse that has cost the Giants 10 of their last 11 home games.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Giants clubhouse.

Posey prevailed, making his mark with a punishing two-out, two-strike grand slam in the fifth inning of the Giants’ booming 6-0 win over the Padres. That’s his second slammer of the month; the other came last week in the Giants’ 9-6 win over the Dodgers.

Bruce Bochy was feeling pretty chipper after the win:

“I joke around that I love three run homers, but grand slams are even better.”

Of course they are, but this one on home turf felt a little more special than that one in unfriendly territory.

Posey said of his big hit:

“Anytime you’re able to have a big inning like that it allows everyone to take a breath, especially after last night’s game.”

Posey’s grand gesture helped settle an uneasy clubhouse that lost its second starting outfielder to a fracture. Nori Aoki was placed on the 15-day DL prior to today’s game with a fractured right fibula, making room on the bench for October hero Travis Ishikawa, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Sacramento.

The thriving homegrown infield has overshadowed the Giants’ lack of outfield depth. Today, Brandon Belt took left field for the 39th time in his career and Posey moved to first, a telltale sign that the outfield is officially on its thinnest ice. The Giants have essentially scraped Sacramento’s best veteran talent for themselves.

Belt looked a little rusty so far from his usual home — he couldn’t reach a shallow line drive in the first inning — but expect to see him grinding it out in left for the majority of this injury-plagued portion of the season while Ishikawa takes over first.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

While the Giants adjust to the outfield situation, Ryan Vogelsong perhaps made the impending rotation shift a little easier to manage.

Jake Peavy and Matt Cain are scheduled to return the first week of July, forcing Giants starters not named Madison Bumgarner to pitch for their lives.

This wasn’t on Vogey’s mind, nor the home rut:

“That wasn’t my though process at all. Just wanted to get out there and throw good pitches.”

Vogey tonight seemed to seal a spot in the rotation with six innings of shutout ball. He allowed five hits, struck out four and pitched his way out of a fourth-inning jam that started with a leadoff walk to Yonder Alonso and a Justin Upton skinner down the third base line that put both runners in scoring position.

“I was upset with myself for walking the leadoff guy…In that situation you want to minimize damage, but I felt for the momentum to stay on our side, we had to put up a zero.”

Vogey answered with a full-count strikeout to Derek Norris — a narrow strike that Andrew Susac admitted he pulled back just a bit — before expertly fielding a Will Venable ground ball to catch Alonso in a 1-2-5-1 pickle on his way home. Said Vogey of the inning:

“It was big to keep them off the board.”

Not that they needed it, but the bats were able to add on to Posey’s game-sealer. Joe Panik put the Giants on the board first with a sac fly that scored Andrew Susac, who had reached on an error and advanced on Gregor Blanco‘s wailing single to the right field wall that Matt Kemp lost in the setting sun.

Angel Pagan and Matt Duffy both incurred walks to set the stage for Posey that inning.

Speaking of Andrew Susac, the rookie catcher notched his first career triple. The hit prompted a clean RBI single from Blanco to put the score at 6-0.

Susac also impressed behind the dish, catching the shutout train and probably learned a lot, said Vogelsong:

“I can kinda see when I shake him off, he’s like ‘oh, ok.'”

Bochy said before the game that he was seeing nice cuts from Susac. His 2-for-4 Wednesday night, including the triple, a double, and a base reached on error, didn’t disappoint the skipper:

“He’s been swinging the bat better with his increased playing time…I thought every at bat was good.”

Susac took time to reflect:

“I’m always looking for an opportunity … I know my role on this team.”

The bullpen, as usual, silenced the Padres after Vogey’s departure. Javier Lopez pitched a clean 1-2-3 seventh inning. George Kontos — donning a 1.77 ERA — struck out two in his stunning eighth before Jean Machi made a nice return to shut the game down in three up, three down fashion.

The Giants finish off this series tomorrow when Chris Heston takes on James Shields at 12:45 p.m.


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