Giants put faith in Vogelsong for Game 3

Giants put faith in Vogelsong for Game 3

CINCINNATI -- There have certainly been many layers to Ryan Vogelsong's rags-to-riches story -- a highly regarded prospect who struggled in the big leagues before landing in Japan, where he pitched for three seasons just to keep his career afloat before a revival with the Giants took hold in 2011.

On Tuesday at 2:37 p.m. PT on TBS, Vogelsong will try to add another notable chapter to his narrative when he gets the start in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Reds at Great American Ball Park -- that of being the team's savior.

Reds vs. Giants

If the Giants are going to remain alive in the series after two disheartening losses at home, they'll need Vogelsong to deliver them a victory after their top two starters, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, failed to do so.

"Obviously, the cliche is to say 'It's just another game,' but I feel like 'just another game' doesn't count when you're talking about postseason," Vogelsong said. "If you talk about 0-2, being down in the series, you can't really say it's just another game."

Tale of the Tape: Game 3
Ryan Vogelsong
Giants
Homer Bailey
Reds
2012 regular season
Overall: 31 GS, 14-9, 3.37 ERA, 62 BB, 158 K's Overall: 33 GS, 13-10, 3.68 ERA, 52 BB, 168 K's
Key stat: Game 3 will be Vogelsong's first postseason start of his career Key stat: Pitched two scoreless innings in Game 3 of the 2010 Division Series vs. Phillies
At Great American Ball Park
2012: 1 GS, 0-0, 6.00 ERA
Career: 2 GS, 1-0, 4.57 ERA
2012: 17 GS, 4-8, 5.16 ERA
Career: 60 GS, 18-19, 5.13 ERA
Against this opponent
2012: 2 GS, 0-0, 4.15 ERA
Career: 8 GS, 2-3, 5.08 ERA
2012: 1 GS, 0-0, 2.84 ERA
Career: 5 GS, 1-0, 5.59 ERA
Loves to face: Joey Votto, 1-for-6
Hates to face: Brandon Phillips, 7-for-14
Loves to face: Hunter Pence, 2-for-11
Hates to face: Angel Pagan, 3-for-7
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Looks to have regained form after a rough August and September Why he'll win: He'll be bringing the momentum from his no-hitter against the Pirates on Sept. 28
Pitcher beware: Season ERA jumped from 2.27 to 3.37 after Aug. 12 Pitcher beware: The Giants have scored 19 runs off Bailey in 29 career innings
Bottom line: Pitch like he did when he led the National League in ERA until Aug. 12 Bottom line: Continue mound mastery from his Sept. 28 no-hitter

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, who also considered Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum for Game 3, opted to look at Vogelsong's entire body of work for 2012 -- as well as his fast finish -- during the season that saw the right-hander go 14-9 with a 3.37 ERA.

Vogelsong was one of the best pitchers in the National League in the first half of the season, as he won seven games and posted a scant 2.36 ERA in his first 16 starts of the season.

But he fell on hard times in August (6.32 ERA) and September (6.46), though he recovered to pitch well in his last three starts, allowing one earned run over 17 innings.

"I think it was more mechanically, and I got a little off course there. Obviously when things aren't going the way you want to, you maybe try and do too much at times to get yourself back on track and sometimes that can go the other way," Vogelsong said.

That fast finish convinced Bochy that Vogelsong had indeed righted himself, not that Vogelsong felt he ever got too far off track, even if the statistics showed otherwise.

"I hate to say that bad luck or luck plays a part in this game, but I really felt like I ran into bad luck, too, at the same time," he said during Monday's workout-day media session. "I was struggling a little bit and things weren't going my way and it kind of magnified things.

"The last three starts I had, I felt pretty good. I'm pretty happy with how I feel going into tomorrow."

So is Bochy, who spoke with conviction that his choice to start Game 3 is Vogelsong.

"He's earned this," Bochy said.

It has been quite a ride for the 35-year-old. Since reviving his career with the Giants, Vogelsong is 27-16 with a 3.05 ERA in 61 games (59 starts). He appeared in the 2011 All-Star Game and posted the fourth-best ERA (2.71) in the league last season.

Not a bad showing for a guy who was originally drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft. He was traded to the Pirates in 2001 and bounced around thereafter, even spending three seasons (2007-09) pitching in Japan before signing a Minor League deal with the Giants before the 2011 season.

Now the Giants, just one game from elimination, will need him to come up with a big start Tuesday. Lincecum, for one, likes the Giants' chances with Vogelsong.

"He's been through a grind, obviously, his whole life, and he's come out and thrown two great seasons, with this year and last year," Lincecum said. "It spoke volumes about what he's about and what he's committed to. And you can see the intensity in his face that this is what he's about."

Vogelsong watched the first two games of the series closely and hopes to do something to slow the Reds' offense, which has scored 14 runs in two games, nine alone in Sunday's victory.

"I think there is always the benefit to pitching second or third in a series, because you get to see some things," he said. "Obviously, I think we need to attack some people differently. I trust [catcher Buster Posey] a lot. I have trusted him all year, and he and I will talk about things tomorrow and come up with what we want to do and try and come up with a good game plan and hopefully that works."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.