Giants look to right ship against Padres in S.D.

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Giants look to right ship against Padres in S.D.

April 4, 2011
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SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Starting on opening day is nothing new for Aaron Harang, who drew the assignment the last five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.

Starting the home opener for his hometown team? That's a little different.

Padres manager Bud Black and pitching coach Darren Balsley told the big right-hander during spring training that he'd be starting Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants.

"I kind of got that little tingle in my gut like, 'Wow, this is pretty cool,' " Harang said Monday. "I get to open up in front of my hometown, my family and friends. It's definitely an honor to get this opportunity."
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Harang attended Patrick Henry High, just up the hill a bit from the Padres' one-time home, Qualcomm Stadium, and then pitched at San Diego State.

He joined the Padres in the offseason as a free agent.

"I'll tell you what. If any guy tells you that he never wanted to have the opportunity to pitch at home, they'd be lying to you," Harang said. "It just means a lot to do it that day and know that I'm going to have people there watching me that are supporting me no matter what."

Forget any kind of a routine before his first start with the Padres, though.

"I've got kids. I don't really have a routine anymore," he said.

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Harang is looking to bounce back after struggling the last three years, including going 6-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 2010, when he was bothered by back spasms.

Black recalls Harang smiling when told of Tuesday's assignment. "But then the smile sort of went away real quick because still, ultimately, you know what your job is, and that's to perform and pitch well. But I'm happy for him."

Black said it made sense for Harang to pitch Tuesday.

"I know that opening days are filled with a lot of emotion," Black said. "A lot of players can handle it differently. I know that Aaron has pitched opening days before when he was with Cincinnati, so it's new to him to pitch in a game that's filled with pageantry and fanfare and high emotion."

Seeing the Giants again surely will remind the Padres of how close they came to a playoff spot last year.

REWIND: Dodgers take series as Huff struggles in right

Although they overachieved by winning 90 games, the Padres faltered down the stretch and were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss at San Francisco on the season's last day.

"It was a great pennant race," Black said. "It was a great, exciting season. There's a part of me that thinks that them getting through us at the end set them up for that run in October. We don't know if it could have been us. But we can play with them. We proved it. We played with them all through the year. They beat us at the end and continued on that momentum into the playoffs and into the World Series. It just goes to show what can happen in a playoff situation."

The Padres went 12-6 against the Giants last year.

San Diego cruised to an NL-best 76-49 record on Aug. 25, good for a 6 12-game lead in the NL West. But the Padres lost their next 10 games to see their lead shrink to just one game, and then won only 14 more games the rest of the way.

"They're a very good team. They're world champions," Black said. "And like us, we're not going to sneak up on anybody this year either, from what we did last year. But the Giants aren't going to sneak up on anybody, either. They've got a good team."

The Padres won two of three in their opening series at St. Louis. The Giants, who counter Tuesday with lefty Madison Bumgarner, lost three of four against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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"It's not the way we want to start," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after a 7-5 loss on Sunday night. "The first couple of games we hurt ourselves and easily could have come away with a couple more wins if we played better ball. I knew this wasn't going to be an easy part of the schedule. Hopefully we'll get back on track."

RELATED: Giants drop series finale 7-5 to L.A.

NOTES: Black said ace Mat Latos, on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, threw 70 pitches in five simulated innings in minor league camp in Peoria, Ariz., on Monday. Latos is due to rejoin the Padres on Tuesday and be re-evaluated. Although he's eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, he's not expected to rejoin the rotation until the weekend. ... This is just a two-game series. The probable starters Wednesday are Tim Lincecum against Tim Stauffer.

Rewind: 'Elite' Martin Jones outplays Price in Sharks' win over Habs

Rewind: 'Elite' Martin Jones outplays Price in Sharks' win over Habs

SAN JOSE – The challenge for Martin Jones headed into 2016-17 was to repeat the kind of campaign he had in his first season as an NHL number one, when he helped the Sharks reach their first-ever Stanley Cup Final.

Having a strong season is one thing. Becoming a franchise goaltender is an entirely different animal. The Canadiens have one, of course, in Carey Price, viewed unanimously as the NHL’s best. 

Jones has some work ahead if he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Price. But his latest performance – a 31-save effort against Montreal in which he slightly outplayed the former Hart Trophy winner at the other end in a 2-1 Sharks win – capped off a remarkable stretch for Jones, who is perhaps the team’s MVP as they sit in first place in the Pacific Division in the first week of December.

In his last 11 games, Jones is now 8-2-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. His GAA for the season was lowered to a miniscule 1.99.

“We’ve got an elite goalie here,” Burns said. “We’re lucky to have Jonesy. He’s great to play in front of. He’s right up there to be the best goalie in the league. Every night he shows it.”

Dillon said: “He's just continuing to prove that he's an elite-level guy. For us, as defensemen, it's nice when he's back there. But at the same time, we want to do our best to eliminate as much as we can and help him out.”

Dillon, Burns, and the rest of the Sharks defense corps did a nice job against the Canadiens, who still lead the NHL standings even after the loss. But the Sharks wouldn’t have won this one without Jones, who made a number of stellar stops.

His best came in the first period with the Sharks enjoying a 1-0 lead, when Jones robbed Alex Galchenyuk after a sneaky pass from Paul Byron gave Galchenyuk all kinds of net to shoot at. Jones slid across and snatched it, freezing play. 

"I think at that point I was just kind of reacting to the play,” Jones said. “You're not going to see me pull that out too, too often. Just tried to get over and bring as much of my body as I could."

Later in the first, Jones stopped Brian Flynn on a breakaway with 2:53 to go. In the second period he again flashed the leather, this time on Max Pacioretty on a two-on-one with 14:53 remaining in the middle frame. Seconds later, it was his left lad that prevented Brenden Gallagher from cutting into the Sharks’ 2-0 lead, when Gallagher found himself alone in front of the net with the puck on his stick.

Facing Price, Jones knew he would have to be on top of his game. According to assistant coach Steve Spott, filling in for Pete DeBoer, that challenge gave Jones a boost.

“I think when he looked down 200 feet away and saw Carey Price – what a great challenge for Marty, and he was outstanding tonight, as was Price for them. That's as good a goalie duo as I've seen in a long time.”

Dillon said: “He just continues to rise to the occasion.”

The goals came from likely sources. Burns, firing the puck from all over the ice in the first, capitalized on a power play with a slapper from the top of the circle. Joe Pavelski finished off a rush with Joe Thornton in the final minute of the opening frame.

Thanks to Jones, that lead was maintained until late, before Logan Couture’s double-minor for high sticking Alexander Radulov left the Sharks shorthanded. They killed off the first two minutes without even allowing a shot on goal, but Montreal got on the board with a turn-around wrister by Artturi Lehkonen with 1:17 left and Price pulled for an extra attacker.

That spoiled the shutout for Jones, but not the night for the Sharks, who killed the rest of the clock and will now get some down time after 10 games in just 18 days. They don’t play again until Wednesday at home against Ottawa.

“Obviously it’s nice when you’ve got a little break to have that game going into it than something else,” Pavelski said.

Whether it’s a good time to take a break is up for debate, as the Sharks are playing their best hockey of the season, winning six of their last seven.

"You look at it 50/50,” Dillon said. “We're a confident group right now and I don't think come Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, we're going to be looking at it any differently. 

“We're going to take the positives out of [the time off], and try to keep this thing rolling.”

If Jones stays on the run he’s on, there’s a very good chance they will.

Washington waxes Colorado in Pac-12 championship game

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USATSI

Washington waxes Colorado in Pac-12 championship game

BOX SCORE

SANTA CLARA -- Taylor Rapp returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown and Myles Gaskin ran for 159 yards to help No. 4 Washington strengthen its case for a playoff berth with a 41-10 victory over No. 9 Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night.

The Huskies (12-1, No. 4 CFP) broke open a close game when Rapp intercepted Sefo Liufau's passes on the first two drives of the second half for a touchdown and to set up a field goal that made it 24-7.

Washington rolled from there to its first conference title since 2000 with a performance likely to keep the Huskies in the top four when the College Football Playoff bids are handed out Sunday.

It was a rough day for Colorado (10-3, No. 8 CFP) and Liufau, who was knocked out of the game after injuring his right leg on a sack on the Buffaloes' first drive of the game. He returned to start the second half and threw three interceptions, including one on the first play from scrimmage that Rapp returned 35 yards for a score.

Liufau threw another interception on the ensuing drive and Colorado could never recover. Even a circus kick return in the third quarter couldn't help the Buffaloes. Anthony Julmisse returned a kick to near midfield and fumbled. Phillip Lindsay scooped up and ran down to the 2 but Colorado was held to a field goal.

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado: From the opening kickoff that went out of bounds, little went right for the Buffaloes, who were unable to cap an impressive turnaround season with a conference title. Liufau's injury didn't help the cause. Steven Montez went 5 for 12 for 60 yards in the first half and was unable to generate any consistent offense and Liufau was even worse when he returned. He threw as many interceptions in the third quarter (3) as he had all season and was just 2 for 12 for 12 yards after coming back into the game.

Washington: The usually efficient Jake Browning struggled throwing the ball but it didn't matter as the Huskies dominated the game with 265 yards on the ground behind Gaskin and Lavon Coleman (101 yards). Browning went just 9 for 24 for 118 yards but did throw two TDs. His second touchdown was far from his prettiest throw of the season. With a defender draped all over him, Browning threw a ball up from grabs that John Ross caught in front of Chidobe Awuzie and ran in 19 yards for the score. Browning's 42 TDs are one shy of Jared Goff's Pac-12 record.

UP NEXT

Colorado: The Buffaloes must wait to see if they will remain ahead of No. 11 USC in the playoff rankings and get a Rose Bowl bid if Washington goes to the playoff or likely head to the Alamo Bowl if they drop behind the Trojans.

Washington: A likely berth in the playoff.