Giants Reclaim First in the West, Vogelsong a Legitimate Cy Young Candidate

Nadia MishkinContributor IIIAugust 3, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 8: Ryan Vogelsong #32 of the San Francisco Giants tips his hat to the crowd after coming out of the game in the top of the seventh inning against Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park May 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won the game 3-0. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants beat out the Arizona Diamondbacks in the last game of a three-game NL West showdown. It was the Giants' lone win against the division rival. 

In a captivating victory, San Francisco accomplished pretty much everything that they were not able to do for the past week.

The Giants scored eight times in the series finale, matching the total number of runs scored in their past five games. 

Meanwhile the D-Backs had won 12 of their last 17. In those games they were able to diminish a 4.5 game deficit, tying San Francisco for first in the NL West. 

The win snapped a five game losing skid for the Giants, and they again stand alone in first place at the top of the division. 

Ryan Vogelsong, who started for San Francisco, improved to 9-1 on the season, maintaining his league-leading record and the best ERA in the National League. 

The first-time All-Star allowed just five hits, one run and struck out seven batters. Over 40,000 fans rose in standing ovation and the crowd roared as Vogelsong tipped his cap in departure in the sixth inning. 

The veteran right-hander is in his sixth professional season, but is just now making a name for himself. Vogelsong fit right in with the Giants pitching staff, and their winning ways, as soon as he replaced Barry Zito when Zito made his first trip to the disabled list in April. 

The Giants can thank his success, as well as the rest of the solid staff, that has allowed San Francisco to stay in first place for most of the season. 

He not only leads the National League in pitching, but has the second best ERA in the majors, and his 9-1 record gives him the best win-percentage in baseball. 

It seems as though every time the 32-year-old takes the mound people are waiting for him to regress, and return to the form of a mediocre starter that he was for the first several years of his career.

However San Francisco has faith in the comeback player, who has overtaken the place in the rotation of two pitchers, in situations in which he could have potentially been simply a temporary replacement. 

If Vogelsong can continue the dominance that he has brought to the diamond every fifth game for San Francisco, he will be a legitimate contender for the Cy Young award in 2011. 

Re-focusing on the regular season, the Giants still rank among the worst in baseball in all offensive categories, and the best in all pitching contests. (27th in runs, 28th in BA, 2nd in ERA and 1st in BAA)

It is the hope of the Giants organization that the additions of Carlos Beltran and two middle infielders will increase those numbers at the plate, easing the torture of just coming out on top in one run ball games. 

The Giants have a tough road ahead of them. They will be facing Atlanta, Philadelphia and Arizona again several times before the season's end.

However if they can continue to support their All-Star pitching staff with run production like they did in this game against Arizona, they will continue to be a favorite to win the division and perhaps run away with even more than that.