NEW YORK -- Ryan Vogelsong so enjoys being in orange and black that he stopped by Finnerty's, a New York bar that's popular among Giants fans, on the team's first night in the Big Apple. For most of the past two seasons, it has seemed a lock that the feeling would be mutual and the Giants would pick up Vogelsong's option for the 2014 season.
That decision gets more complicated by the start, and Vogelsong had another bad one Saturday, giving up five runs over five innings of a 6-0 loss to the New York Yankees. The right-hander has a 5.90 ERA in a season interrupted by a fractured finger and has given up 20 earned runs in his past five starts. But Vogelsong said the stretch has been a learning experience more than anything, and he's hopeful that he will be in the same clubhouse when he puts it all back together.
Vogelsong signed a two-year, $8.3 million deal before the 2012 season that includes a $6.5 million club option for the 2014 season.
"If I was pitching better right now, it's probably not even a question," he said of the club's decision. "But I feel I still have a lot to bring to the game and this team. It's no secret I love it here. I want to be back and hope they pick it up. If they do, I'm going to be better next year. If they don't, I'm going to be better next year."
If the Giants are looking for signs that Vogelsong can find his past All-Star form, they continue to find them in the early moments of his starts. Vogelsong has come out blazing in recent outings before going off the rails in the fifth inning. On Saturday, the runs came in the third and fourth innings.
A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs in the third, and the Yankees went up 1-0 on Ichiro Suzuki's sacrifice fly. A groundout by Alex Rodriguez and single by Robinson Cano scored two more runs. A two-run homer by Eduardo Nunez put the Yankees up 5-0 in the fourth.
"The upsetting part today is that from a mental standpoint I didn't feel I had a very good game," Vogelsong said. "I just wasn't happy with the mental side. (Catcher Buster Posey) was putting down the right fingers. It's just a matter of knowing I'm going to get the ball down."
Vogelsong has been unbreakable on the mental side while reigniting his career over the past three years, but the lapses of late have coincided with a plummeting strikeout rate, leading to ugly results. Vogelsong has struck out just seven of the 122 opposing hitters he has faced in his past five starts, allowing an opposing average of .336.
"He was off today with his stuff," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's had some good starts and mixed in some rough ones."
It's been two straight rough ones at the plate for the Giants hitters, who were blanked for the first time since Aug. 19.
"We're cold with the bats," Bochy said. "Their guy (Ivan Nova) pitched well. He made us look flat today."
No Giant looked flatter than Posey, who was hitless in four at-bats and is just 2 for 29 on the trip. Posey is hitting just .167 since missing time with a small fracture on the tip of his right ring finger but shook off any thought that the injury is a factor.
"No -- absolutely not," he said.
The decrease in production goes much further back than the Sept. 3 injury, anyway. Posey is hitting just .247 since the All-Star break with as many extra-base hits (eight) as backup infielder Joaquin Arias. He has two second-half homers, one fewer than his backup, Hector Sanchez.
"It's just my timing is a little off, that's the main thing," Posey said. "Usually for me, it's just about trying to let the ball travel a little more so I can see it deeper. You just have to do it."
Posey is not the type to ever admit to being hurt or fatigued, but he came close Saturday, saying the longer offseason will allow for increased strength training. Few in baseball could use a break more than the 26-year-old catcher, who played full postseasons in 2010 and 2012 and in between went through months of grueling rehab after a home plate collision in May 2011.
The Giants are seven games from the end of their season, and Posey said he would use the normal offseason as a chance to build strength.
"That's always a time to plan what I can do to be better," he said. "It's about doing my strength training to where I feel good all year. That's the plan."
For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants.
Giants (Yusmeiro Petit 4-0) at N.Y. Yankees (Andy Pettitte 10-10), 10:05 a.m. CSNBA