San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong throws to the Houston Astros
during the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011
By Adam Berry
When the Giants signed right-hander Henry Sosa as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, they might have expected him to win his first Major League game in AT&T Park. But they probably didn’t anticipate that it would come at their expense.
Then again, it’s safe to assume the Giants didn’t predict a number of things about this season — like owning the Majors’ lowest-scoring offense, with only 447 runs in 131 games, or trailing the D-backs by three games in the National League West in late August.
That offense once again struggled to get anything going Thursday night against Sosa, the former Giants farmhand who was traded in last month’s Jeff Keppinger deal. Sosa allowed only one run in six innings, beating Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants, 3-1, in AT&T Park.
Sosa wasn’t great by any means, giving up four hits and three walks while striking out three batters, but Vogelsong wasn’t the shutdown pitcher he has been at home for much of the season, either. Vogelsong threw a season-high 117 pitches in 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts.
San Francisco’s woes with runners in scoring position are well-documented at this point; the Giants entered the game batting a Major League-worst .219 in those situations. But they had few opportunities to improve on that on Thursday, finishing just 0-for-3 as they scuffled through the night and often squandered their few opportunities on the basepaths.
The Giants had eight baserunners on the night. Two were caught stealing, and a first-inning double play by Carlos Beltran made short work of two more.
The young Astros, meanwhile, used their athleticism — and Eli Whiteside’s trouble throwing out baserunners at second — to their advantage. Entering Thursday night’s game, opponents had been successful in 31 of 41 stole-base attempts off Whiteside. Houston got on the board right away against Vogelsong when Jordan Schafer led off the game with a ground-ball single to first base, stole second and scored on a one-out double by J.D. Martinez.
The Astros pushed their lead to two runs in the top of the third, again taking advantage of their speedy top of the order and Vogelsong’s lack of command. Schafer drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on Jose Altuve’s single to center field. Martinez drove in Schafer for the second time, knocking a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
The Giants got one back in the bottom of the inning, though certainly not by pounding the ball all over the field or swiping bases. Eli Whiteside singled to right field and moved to second on Vogelsong’s sacrifice bunt. With Orlando Cabrera at the plate, Sosa balked and allowed Whiteside to trot over to third. Cabrera then grounded out to shortstop Clint Barmes, driving in Whiteside to cut the Astros’ lead in half.
But Schafer continued his excellent night in the seventh, slamming a solo home run into the right-field arcade off Vogelsong to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.
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