Giants Insider notes: Suddenly, a sunny road trip


Giants Insider notes: Suddenly, a sunny road trip

May 4, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 2-0 victory over the host Mets on Wednesday at Citi Field in New York.

Heavy load: Tim Lincecum was all over the map in the first inning, and it was evident from his very first pitch, which nearly sailed over catcher Buster Posey's head and to the backstop. Lincecum unleashed a carbon copy on his first pitch to No. 2 hitter Daniel Murphy, who ended up doubling on a full-count fastball at the belt and right over the heart of the plate. Struggling to find any semblance of command, Lincecum was wild within and outside the strike zone on the way to throwing 26 pitches in the inning, 13 of them balls and only three of them called strikes. He eventually stranded runners at first and second without allowing a run -- he is Tim Lincecum, after all -- but the early struggles made for a laborious night for the ace, who delivered his 100th pitch of the night while getting the first out of the sixth inning.

RECAP: History for Lincecum, victory for Giants in N.Y.
Again, he is Tim Lincecum: Despite the elevated pitch count, Lincecum managed to work his way through perhaps his most impressive outing of the season. The Mets had two runners on with one out in the fourth inning, but a flyout to shallow center field and strikeout No. 6 for the night left the runners where they were. Bigger still was his yeoman's effort in the sixth, when he rewarded manager Bruce Bochy's decision to let Lincecum hit for himself with a run in and the bases loaded in the top of the frame. After a leadoff double and a single put runners at the corners with nobody out, Freddy Sanchez made a terrific sliding catch in foul ground before Lincecum flat-out thugged Willie Harris and Jason Pridie with strikeouts No. 8 and No. 9 to escape with his shutout intact."Franchise," indeed: By opening the bottom of the seventh with his third consecutive punchout, Lincecum moved past Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson for the franchise lead in double-digit strikeout games. It was the 29th such game for the two-time Cy Young winner, in his 129th career start. It took Matthewson 551 starts to record 28. Oh, and just for kicks, or perhaps to further illustrate what a special evening it had been, Lincecum struck out the side in the seventh to finish with 12 strikeouts and a pitch count of 127. Think about it: five consecutive strikeouts on 27 pitches to end his night. Simply amazing.URBAN: Could Lincecum be best of all time?
Hot damn, Huff Daddy: A night after breaking out of his 1-for-the-road-trip funk with a game-winning homer in the 10th inning, Aubrey Huff reached on an infield single, doubled high off the wall in right-center field and scorched a single to right in his first three trips to the plate. The line-drive single moved Mike Fontenot into scoring position in the top of the sixth, setting up Pat Burrell's RBI single to center that snapped a scoreless tie.Speaking of Mighty Mike : Bochy gave Fontenot, a left-handed hitter, his second consecutive start in the No. 3 spot in the order against lefty Chris Capuano, and the unconventional move paid off as Fontenot, one of the team's hottest hitters of late, walked to start the sixth-inning rally and singled up the middle to score Aaron Rowand in the seventh for the game's second run.Suddenly sunny: When the Giants were blanked for the third time in six days on Monday in Washington, D.C., their record on the road trip fell to 3-4 -- and it actually felt a lot worse than that. With Wednesday's victory, however, the second series victory of the trip was secured and the roadie record was pushed to 5-4, guaranteeing that they'd achieve, at a minimum, every team's stated goal when leaving home: a .500 record. If they close out a sweep of the Mets on Thursday afternoon, the Giants will head back to the Bay Area with a highly satisfying and potentially tide-turning trip of which they should be incredibly proud.
Got heeem: With a ruthlessly efficient bottom of the ninth inning, which featured two quick strikeouts and a lazy popup to left field, closer Brian Wilson finally had that first outing of 2011 that reminded everyone of how good he was in 2010. Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo also chipped in on another clutch night by the Giants bullpen.

NBA Gameday: Warriors visit Rockets looking to avenge early-season loss

NBA Gameday: Warriors visit Rockets looking to avenge early-season loss

Four days after avenging one of their six losses, the Warriors get another chance for revenge on an opponent that knocked them off last month.

This time, it’s the Rockets, who greet the Warriors Friday night at Toyota Center. After evening their season series with the Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors will seek to do the same in Houston.

The Warriors (36-6) have won five in a row, averaging nearly 120 points per game behind a more aggressive Stephen Curry.

The Rockets (33-12) have been the surprise team of the league this season. Generally projected to win between 42 and 48 games, they are on pace to win 60.


Warriors by 5.5


Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: In his first season as an officially designated point guard Harden has been playing at MVP level. He leads the league in assists and has been a top-3 scorer all season. Thompson’s defense is not as consistently solid as in previous seasons. He knows Harden well, dating back to their days as prep stars in Southern California and fully understands he’ll have to bring his best, while also getting help from his teammates.


Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out.

Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) is listed as questionable.


Warriors: 9-1. Rockets: 7-3.


The Rockets prevailed in the first meeting this season, 132-127 in double overtime, on Dec. 1, but the Warriors have won nine of the last 12 overall. The Warriors have won the last four meetings in Houston.


THE FIREWORKS: The Warriors and Rockets rank 1-2 in points and also true-shooting percentage. Houston launches a league-high 40 3-pointers per game. The Warriors, at 30.6, are tied for fifth. If the clubs stay true to form, that’s 71 triples. Don’t go near the scoreboard unless you want to get burned.

THE GIVEAWAYS: Insofar as both teams tend to give it up -- only four teams commit more turnovers than these two -- they could offset each other here. Both fire threes in transition. The crucial element is live-ball turnovers, as a decided advantage goes to the team that exploits them best.

THE BENCHES: Over the last 10 games, Shaun Livingston is shooting 66 percent and Andre Iguodala is at 63.6. They will need to continue their offensive efficiency to overcome the loss of David West while also neutralizing Sixth Man of the Year leader Eric Gordon, who leads the league in 3-pointers.

NBA Gameday: Kings begin life without Gay against Grizzlies

NBA Gameday: Kings begin life without Gay against Grizzlies

The Sacramento Kings begin their eight-game road trip Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies and they’ll have to do it without the services of Rudy Gay. Sacramento’s starting small forward went down in the third quarter of the Kings’ loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night and will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. 

Gay isn’t the only ailing player for the Kings. Omri Casspi is out 1-2 weeks with a strained calf muscle, leaving coach Dave Joerger shorthanded at the wing position. Joerger has used Garrett Temple, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes and Ben McLemore at the three and will need someone to step forward and help pick up the slack without Gay’s 18.7 points per game. 

Memphis has hit a rough patch in their schedule. The Grizzlies have dropped three of their last four games, including two straight, but they are still tied for the sixth spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. Rookie head coach David Fizdale has a veteran group that coach Joerger knows well after coaching in Memphis the previous three seasons.  


Grizzlies by 6.5


DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol -- Cousins has carried plenty of weight for the Kings this season, but his team is going to need even more from the big fella with the loss of Gay. Cousins is averaging a career-best 4.4 assists and over his last three games, he’s posted a whopping 9.3 dimes per game. Gasol is having his best scoring season of his nine-year career, leading the Grizzlies at 19.6 points per game. Like Cousins, Gasol can really move the ball and he’s added the 3-point shot to his game this season.


Kings: 16-25, third place in Pacific
Grizzlies: 25-19, third place in Southwest


Kings: SF Rudy (left Achilles tendon) out for the season, SF Omri Casspi (calf strain) out, PG Ty Lawson (left ankle) questionable.
Grizzlies: F Brandan Wright (ankle) out, F Deyonta Davis (foot) questionable.


These two clubs have split the season series 1-1, with each team picking up a win on the road. The Kings hold a 44-36 record against the Grizzlies all-time.  


“We’ve got an eight game road trip, we’ve got to come together closer and closer, not drift apart.” Ty Lawson following the loss of Rudy Gay