Bay Area battle begins tonight as Giants host A's


Bay Area battle begins tonight as Giants host A's

May 20, 2011

A's (22-22) vs.
GIANTS (24-19)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

(AP) -- Off to another solid start after a breakthrough 2010 season, Trevor Cahill is firmly established as the Oakland Athletics' ace.

Very few ever thought Ryan Vogelsong would be pitching like one after a five-year layoff.

The latest installment of the Bay Bridge Series gets going Friday night, when Cahill will try to halt the Athletics' long skid in San Francisco against Vogelsong and the Giants.

URBAN: Giants have momentum, A's have arms

Oakland (22-22) won seven straight in San Francisco between 2006 and 2008, but have come away empty in each of six visits after that. The A's starting staff has posted a 6.21 ERA during the losing streak compared to 3.68 from the bullpen.

An 18-game winner in 2010, Cahill (6-1, 1.82 ERA) will try again to become the first in the majors with seven victories this year.

The right-hander suffered his first loss since Sept. 26 on Sunday, when he allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven innings of a 4-3 defeat to the Chicago White Sox.

Cahill had allowed one run or less in seven of eight games coming in, and could rebound nicely when facing the Giants (24-19). He's won both career starts against them, allowing two runs and 10 hits in 13 2-3 innings.

He also told the Athletics' official website that he's looking forward to stepping in the batter's box.

"It should be fun, facing an NL team. It's a different kind of ballgame, getting to hit and everything," said Cahill, who's 1 for 5 lifetime as a hitter, and 5-2 with a 3.10 ERA in eight interleague starts.

OSTLER: Survival guide for bandwagon Giants fans

Oakland will need a long outing from Cahill after dropping back to .500 with an 11-1 loss to AL-worst Minnesota, which swept the two-game set Thursday. The A's were forced to use their bullpen when Tyson Ross exited after seven pitches with a strained oblique.

"You just try to get through 27 outs with your bullpen," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "It was a rough day, but we'll bounce back."

Bouncing back is a theme for Vogelsong (3-0, 2.36) as he continues to author perhaps the best comeback story in any sport in recent memory.

The right-hander began his career with San Francisco in 2000, missed all of 2002 after Tommy John surgery and was out of the majors once the 2006 campaign ended.

With former A's star Barry Zito out since mid-April with a foot injury, Vogelsong has flourished as the fifth starter. The 33-year-old hasn't surrendered a run over his last 13 1-3 innings, and is coming off his first big league shutout.

He scattered seven hits over six innings Saturday in a rain-shortened 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. With three wins, Vogelsong is tied with two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez for second on the team behind closer Brian Wilson (four).

Vogelsong will be making his first start against the A's since yielding six runs, eight hits and four walks in Pittsburgh's 12-11 loss on June 12, 2004.

The Giants return home after completing a two-game sweep of the Dodgers with a 3-1 win in Los Angeles. Madison Bumgarner came within one out of a shutout to get his first win in seven decisions this year.

"It feels like a playoff win, it's been so long," Bumgarner said. "I'm just glad to finally get that first win out of the way."

San Francisco shortstop Miguel Tejada, who won the 2002 AL MVP with Oakland, has gone 7 for 16 over his last four games and is batting .221.

Tejada leads all current Giants with 33 homers and 129 RBIs while batting .273 in interleague play.

Cubs' Epstein: 'History doesn't really weigh on this club'


Cubs' Epstein: 'History doesn't really weigh on this club'

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

Yes, you read that right.

The Cubs are going to the World Series.

The Curse of the Billy Goat is broken. 

The 71-year drought is over. 

The truly once-in-a-lifetime moment has finally come to Chicago.

Holy cow.

The Cubs punched their ticket to the promised land with a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Best Pitcher on the Planet in front of 42,386 fans in the most euphoric moment in Wrigley Field's history.

Theo Epstein's vision is one step closer to coming to fruition.

"History doesn't really weigh on this club," Epstein said before Saturday's Game 6. "Just trying to win tonight's game. 

"These guys - a lot of them are in their early 20s and they're not burdened by that stuff. The organization isn't. It's just about trying to win and keeping it simple."


Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

Rewind: Sharks slow, sloppy and undisciplined in loss to Wings

DETROIT – The Sharks had just one scheduled practice on their 10-day road trip, set to take place on Friday in Detroit prior to the fifth and final game against the Red Wings. It was canceled, though, as the coaching staff opted for rest rather than work.

The result was a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings in which the Sharks were sloppy in their own zone, were smoked in the faceoff circle, surrendered a plethora of odd-man rushes, and took eight minor penalties. They just couldn’t keep pace with a Detroit team that was playing its second game in as many nights. 

San Jose looked like a club that has held just a single solitary practice since the season began on Oct. 12.

“Some breakdowns, guys not being above [the puck], some giveaways in our own end, we’re kind of leaving [the defensive zone] early,” Logan Couture said. “We just don’t seem like we’re dedicated to defense like we were at the end [of] last year.”

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Sharks blanked by Wings, end road trip with thud]

“It wasn’t very good tonight,” added Martin Jones, who lost his third in a row in goal. “Too many penalties, too many turnovers. Just wasn’t very good tonight.”

The start was actually a decent one, as the Sharks were attempting to put Thursday’s third period collapse in Pittsburgh behind them, but Detroit eventually took over. Gustav Nyquist broke the scoreless tie four minutes into the second period, and added to the Red Wings’ lead with a second marker about 11 minutes later.

On the first, Paul Martin was caught flat-footed in the offensive zone, leading to a two-on-one rush by Detroit. Nyquist abruptly stopped on the faceoff dot in front of Justin Braun, and rifled a shot though. On the second, Matt Nieto had control of the puck and was headed up the ice before he stumbled and turned it over to Ryan Sproul, who found Nyquist in the slot. 

A bad line change resulted in Andreas Athanasiou powering a slap shot to Jones’ far side six minutes into the third period, giving Detroit a commanding three-goal lead. 

“We were late everywhere tonight,” Pete DeBoer said. “When you’re a step behind a good team they expose you, and I think that was the story. We’ll have to go back and figure out why, and get our game back in a better place.”

“We played into their hands. They’re a transition team, a speed team, and if you’re going to play east-west and turn the puck over they’re going to make you pay for it. We talked about it, but we still fell into that trap. Obviously the penalties didn’t help, and we’re playing catch up all night.”

Among those penalties was a double minor to Joe Pavelski for spearing Steve Ott, just a few seconds after Athanasiou’s goal. The captain seemed agitated for much of the night.

Pavelski said he didn’t think he got a whole lot of Ott with his stick, but “it’s a play you don’t want to make.”

DeBoer didn’t take issue with the play which nullified what would have been a Sharks power play after a Drew Miller interference.

“Pav is a competitor. He was probably our best player tonight. He’s competing right until the final buzzer,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have a problem with that. It doesn’t bother me.”

The power play, though, is one area that the coach may need to focus on when the Sharks finally get a practice in on Monday at home. Despite being together for so many years, the top unit seems tentative with the puck and is misfiring on passes that are typically routine.

On one power play in the second period when the game was still scoreless, Pavelski was open in front of the net, but Patrick Marleau missed him on what would have been a tap-in goal. The Sharks finished 0-for-4 with a man advantage and have just one goal in a manned net this season during five-on-four play.

What has to change?

“Quite a few things,” Couture said. “We’re breaking in fine, [but] we’re too stationary, I think. I don’t know if we’re moving the puck well enough. Not attacking holes, not shooting the puck and getting it back.”

The Sharks will open up a three-game homestand on Tuesday with the Ducks. There is work to do before that.

“We’re 3-3. That’s the good news,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve played some good hockey, but we have a lot of things we’ve got to clean up, too.”

Jones said: “Obviously it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the road trip. We’ll bounce back, and we’ve got a lot of games left.”