On his own pitching staff, Ryan Vogelsong rates mostly as unheralded. But in the postseason, the 37-year-old right-hander has few peers.
On Tuesday, pitching in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Nationals, Vogelsong became the first pitcher in Major League history to allow one or fewer runs in each of his first five postseason starts, putting the Giants in position to clinch the series in a 3-2 thriller.
"I think there's a reason why he was out there tonight, and I told him that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Vogelsong, who went 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA in the regular season. "He's had an up-and-down year, but really has pitched better than what the numbers indicate, and he couldn't have given us a better effort."
It was historic. The two pitchers who previously had allowed one or fewer runs in each of their first four playoff starts were Blue Moon Odom in 1972 for the A's and Christy Mathewson for the Giants in 1905 and '11. Now, Vogelsong is in a class by himself.
Vogelsong limited the Nationals to one earned run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. He exited with a 2-1 lead but didn't figure in the decision after Bryce Harper tied the game with a homer in the seventh. Still, Vogelsong managed to etch his name in the history books with another postseason gem.
"You know, every time we're here, and I'm getting ready for a game, I just think back to when I was a kid playing in the backyard and making believe I was in this situation," Vogelsong said of his postseason prowess. "I just love it."
Vogelsong might not have the credentials as others on the Giants' staff -- Matt Cain has a perfect game and once led the league in victories; Tim Lincecum has two career no-hitters and two NL Cy Young Awards; Jake Peavy won an NL Cy Young Award with the Padres in 2007; and Tim Hudson has won 214 games in his career.
None, however, has been as good out of the chute in the postseason as Vogelsong, who exited his start Tuesday with a 3-0 record and a 1.19 ERA in five career postseason starts, the first four during the Giants' magical run to the World Series championship in 2012.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. MLB.com national reporter John Schlegel contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.