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Big League Stew

Ryan Vogelsong’s unbelievable comeback story adds its best chapter in a familiar place

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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(AP)

DETROIT — If they ever make a movie about Ryan Vogelsong's life — and they really have to be at least thinking about it by now — some of the best scenes are going to be filmed at Comerica Park.

It was here in the visiting manager's office in July 2011 that Vogelsong learned he had made the All-Star team from Bruce Bochy, an unlikely achievement after the righthander had spent most of the previous 10 years pitching for more minor-league and Japanese squads than big league teams.

And it was here on Saturday night that Vogelsong pitched the San Francisco Giants to the brink of another World Series title, somehow putting together 5 2/3 scoreless innings before handing the game off to another dominating bullpen effort from Tim Lincecum. The end result was Vogelsong being named the winning pitcher in a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 of the World Series and another unbelievable item in the scrapbook that is Vogelsong's career resurrection.

"It crossed my mind," the 35-year-old said when asked if he realized how the American League ballpark had figured into some of his best moments. "When we walked in for the workout yesterday, I thought about it when I walked by (Bochy's) office.

"I mean, what an amazing experience.  I was thrilled to death before the game even started just to have this opportunity.  I'm just glad I was able to have a solid game and come out on the right side of this one."

Vogelsong didn't make it easy on himself, surrendering five hits and walking four while striking out only three. But he got out of the first and third innings by inducing double play ground balls from Prince Fielder and Quintin Berry. He then got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fifth by striking out Berry and then getting Miguel Cabrera to pop out to shortstop in a turning-point play that was tailor made for the World Series highlight reel:

"It's a lot easier to face him in that situation when there's two outs," Vogelsong said of the at-bat after the game. " I was just trying to make a pitch, and the way we were playing defense, really just trying to get him to put a ball in play somewhere, because I had a good feeling we were going to catch it if he did."

Vogelsong got the first two outs of the sixth inning before walking Andy Dirks and being replaced by Lincecum. With the Giants one win away from the World Series, it provided a potential cap to what has been an unreal run for Vogelsong this month. He's given up only three runs over four postseason starts and a total of 24 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Vogelsong is only the second pitcher in baseball history to give up one run or less in his first four postseason starts that lasted five innings or more.

The other is a fella named Christy Mathewson. You might have seen him in the Hall of Fame.

Additionally, Vogelsong's 1.09 ERA this postseason is the lowest by a starting pitcher withe more than 24 innings pitched since Curt Schilling recorded a mark of 1.12 (six runs over 48 1/3)  in the 2001 postseason for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

When it all comes down to it, Vogelsong would probably be the guy if Major League Baseball gave out a Conn Smythe-type award for a MVP of the entire postseason. And while many of us might be surprised with how well he's thrown, the pitcher who puts the "journey" into "journeyman" had played this situation through in his head many times before.

"It's my first World Series," he said. "I've been waiting for this since I was five years old, and I wasn't going to go down without a fight, that's for sure."

Don't miss a thing this World Series
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