Giants Own Game 4, Claim Series Stranglehold


Giants Own Game 4, Claim Series Stranglehold


ARLINGTON, Texas -- On the strength of 24 outs recorded by a 21-year-old rookie, the Giants on Sunday moved to within 27 outs of baseball heaven.Left-hander Madison Bumgarner simply dominated the high-octane hosts in Game 4 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark, leading San Francisco to a 4-0 victory that left them needing but one more triumph to end a championship drought that dates back to 1954.He threw everything he had, he threw it for strikes, and he threw it all the way through the eighth inning. In doing so, he threw a serious wrench into the Rangers plan to irreversibly shift the momentum of the Fall Classic.He had it all going, Giants skipper Bruce Bochy said. I cant say enough about what he did tonight.What Bumgarner did was help quickly erase the memory of the Giants' Game 3 loss. His eight shutout innings all but ensured San Francisco avoided its first two-game losing streak since the final weekend of the regular season. Most important, he gave San Francisco a 3-1 series lead.Only a three-game losing streak -- Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain scheduled to pitch the next two -- can prevent the City by the Bay from celebrating its first World Series title since moving West from New York for the 1958 season, four years after the franchises most recent world title. The Giants havent lost three in a row since late August.Its a good spot to be in, no doubt, said Aubrey Huff, who gave Bumgarner all the offense hed need with a two-run homer in the third inning. But weve still got a lot of work tomorrow. Weve got to go out there and get back to work, act like were down 1-3.Huff hit the huge early homer, Buster Posey hit one late, Andres Torres and Edgar Renteria each had three hits and tag-teamed a big insurance run, and Bumgarner handled the rest of the heavy lifting.In truth, the only thing heavy about Bumgarner are his eyelids. He appears half-asleep much of the time. On Sunday, he made the powerful Rangers offense go nighty-night with eight shutout innings of three-hit work with two walks and six strikeouts.Its the World Series, the biggest game youre ever going to play in, Bumgarner said. I just try to go out there and tell myself its another game.While Bumgarner was busy living up to his reputation for refusing to play the role of overwhelmed and wide-eyed youngster, Texas starter Tommy Hunter essentially lived down to his reputation as a postseason disaster.Hunter, who has yet to see his way past the fifth inning in three postseason starts, was gone after four innings with a line of two runs on five hits and a walk with one strikeout over 83 laborious pitches.Were it not for a diving catch by Josh Hamilton to rob Nate Schierholtz and end the top of the second with runners at the corners, Hunter might not have made it that far.The Giants helped a little, too. Torres opened the game with an infield single and stole second, but Freddy Sanchez grounded out, Huff could do no more than move Torres to third with another groundout, and Posey ended the inning with yet another routine bouncer.Huff, however, more than made up for his part in the aborted rally. Torres opened the third with a double into the right-field corner, and after Sanchez again failed to advance him, grounding out to the left side to end a nine-pitch battle, Huff jumped all over a first-pitch cutter that cut no better than a plastic spork. Watching his drive head down the right-field line, Huff stood at the plate for a moment, banking on body English to keep it fair. And fair it stayed, his first postseason homer landing an announced 404 feet away from the plate for a 2-0 lead that seemed to take the fight right out of the sellout crowd of more than 51,000.Its certainly special, said Huff, a native Texan. In the back of your mind youd like to hit a big homer to put you ahead. Its pretty surreal right now.If Sanchez was a bit of a disappointment at the plate early on, he was anything but a bummer on defense. He ended the bottom of the second with a leaping, snow-cone catch of a liner by Jeff Francoeur, and he was a one-man show in the fourth.Michael Young led off with a shot into shallow right that Sanchez ranged way to his left to flag down with a slide, but a momentary bobble on the glove-to-hand exchange allowed Young to barely beat the throw and give the Rangers their first hit of the game.Hamilton followed with a bouncer the brought Sanchez into the base path, where he alertly tagged Young before twisting and contorting his frame -- Cirque de Soleil scouts would have drooled -- before firing to first. Hamilton beat the throw, but he didnt beat Poseys throw to second with two out; Sanchez was at the bag to field it on a short-hop before swiping a quick tag to Hamiltons forearm, thwarting the attempted base theft. Sanchez also started a 4-6-3 that ended the sixth inning, helping double up the fastest man on the field, Elvis Andrus.I just want to have a positive impact on the game in any way, Sanchez said. Play hard for nine innings like we always do, and something goods probably going to happen.Making the strong throw to get Andrus by a hair was shortstop Renteria, who picked up his third single of the game with one out in the top of the seventh. He raced home on a two-out drive to the wall in right-center by Torres, giving Bumgarner some extra padding for use in his cold-blooded construction of the Rangers deathbed.Its an amazing feeling to be a part of this group of guys, Torres said. Im so blessed to just be here. Everything else is extra.So coolly efficient through the first six innings that he entered the seventh with a pitch count of 73, Bumgarner encountered his only real jam in that seventh, when an error by third baseman Juan Uribe and a two-out single by Nelson Cruz gave the Rangers their first runner in scoring position.As hes done all year with whatever pressure has tried to come his way, Bumgarner shrugged it off and went back to work, calmly getting ahead of Ian Kinsler with an inside fastball before retiring him on a lazy fly ball to left.He didnt throw two pitches the same speed, and he moved the ball around, marveled Rangers manager Ron Washington, who also credited Bumgarner with having a role in the fine defense behind him.He kept the ball on the ground and kept his offense engaged, Washington explained. The kid did a great job tonight. Posey, who teamed with Bumgarner to become the first rookie battery to start a World Series game since Yankees righty Spec Shea and Yogi Berra in 1947, waited until to eighth inning to truly celebrate the occasion. He greeted reliever Darren ODay by belting a 2-2 offering onto the grassy bank beyond the wall in center for his first postseason home run.In Game 3, ODay had coaxed a weak ground ball out of Posey to end a potential rally in the same inning.I tried to treat it like the same situation, Posey said. He won last night, and I got a better pitch to hit tonight.Bumgarner bid an appropriate adieu with a perfect eighth inning that pushed his pitch count to 106, leaving the end-of-game glory to the bullpen hed kept quiet all night.Brian Wilson took the baton and was perfect himself, striking out the final two batters to end a very Happy Halloween for the orange-and-black.We have baseball left, Bochy reminded. We got a heck of a performance out of the kid tonight and some big hits, but theyve got a tough pitcher going tomorrow in lefty Cliff Lee. Right now we still have work ahead of us, and the number we have to get to is win No. 4.

Rewind: Warriors' dominance over Clippers in 'rivalry' continues

Rewind: Warriors' dominance over Clippers in 'rivalry' continues

LOS ANGELES – Once robust, the fabled Warriors-Clippers rivalry is rapidly going the way of the typewriter.

When the Warriors strolled walked into Staples Center Wednesday night and laid a 115-98 mashing on LA, prompting much of the sellout crowd streaming toward the exits in the fourth quarter, it was seventh consecutive time they have throttled the Clippers.

More deflating for the Clippers and perhaps the rest of the NBA is that this much-hyped game, with LA’s new and improved defense ranking No. 1 in the league, was supposed to be more competitive than the previous six losses.

It was, instead, a 17-point victory, the biggest Warriors rout yet.

Though the Warriors shot a respectable 47.7 percent (but only 23.3 percent beyond the arc) and also lost a tight rebounding battle, 46-45, they did most everything else so well the Clippers were done before the first quarter was over.

They had 32 assists and only 11 turnovers. They held LA to 39.6-percent shooting, while forcing 14 turnovers, leading to 16 Warriors points.

“Defensively, that’s where we won the game,” Kevin Durant said.

“If we defend like that and take care of the ball, even on a night when shots aren’t going in, we have a chance to win anywhere,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Even on the road against a great team.”

The Warriors (19-3) locked up star forward Blake Griffin, holding him to 12 points on 5-of-20 shooting – and an unsightly seven turnovers – mostly under the unyielding defense of Draymond Green.

In a game circled on their calendar, the Clippers’ starting five finished with 41 points – less than the combined totals of Klay Thompson (24) and Green (22).

The Clippers (16-7) lost this game on merit, perhaps more than the Warriors won it. Committing nine first-quarter turnovers, which the Warriors turned into 8 points, LA looked like a team that was not prepared to play an NBA game, certainly not under the microscope of national TV.

The game was advertised never materialized, partly because the Clippers were so bad and partly because the Warriors were appropriately ruthless in taking it.

“It happens,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You go into a game that you really want to do well, things don’t go well for you, and you lose it sometimes.”

Largely thanks to Clippers turnovers, the Warriors smoked LA in paint points, 58-38, as well as fast-break points, 27-11. The Warriors had 12 steals, including a career-high-tying seven by Stephen Curry.

“When we get a steal, especially live-ball turnovers, it’s three-on-one and you’ve got to pick your poison,” Durant said. “We were getting layups, we were getting wide-open 3s – although we missed a lot. But for the most part, when we get out and run that kind of ignites us, no matter if we miss or make the shot.”

So it didn’t matter than Curry failed to make a 3-pointers for only the second time this season, or that Durant endured his worst shooting night as a Warrior, going 5-of-17 from the field.

With Curry, Durant and Thompson all shooting under 50 percent, it was left to Green to operate the efficiency department. He mastered it, going 8-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-5 beyond the arc.

“It was great to get some shots to fall,” Green said. “(My shot has) been feeling good the last couple days, so I said if I got a shot that I would come in aggressive. But still focus in on the defensive end. That’s always my No. 1 focus, especially against a team like this.”

To locate the genesis of the Warriors recent domination of the Clippers, look no further than Green. He suffocates Griffin, who tends to come apart. The Warriors have faced the Clippers nine times since Green was installed as the starting power forward. They’ve won eight of them.

“If you want to take a positive away from this experience, it’s that this isn’t the playoffs,” Griffin said. “So we have some work to do, obviously. It’s a good lesson for us and I think we’ll be better off because of it. We have to allow ourselves to learn from it.”

It’s a theme very similar to that which was expressed the last time the Clippers lost to the Warriors, as well as the time before that, and so on and so on and so on, going back to the days when this was a real rivalry.

The Warriors simply take the W and keep quiet. No gloating. Maybe that will come in the playoffs.

Rewind: Sharks show no rust from layoff, fall to Sens anyway

Rewind: Sharks show no rust from layoff, fall to Sens anyway

SAN JOSE – Against Ottawa on Wednesday night, the Sharks showed no ill effects from their recent respite. They controlled play in the offensive end for long stretches, earned six power plays, and outshot and out-chanced the Senators for the majority of the three periods. 

There was no rust to speak of despite no games since Friday and no practices or meetings on Saturday or Sunday. From the opening puck drop, the Sharks were the better team.

It didn’t earn them a win, though, or even a single point in the standings. Justin Braun couldn’t prevent a bouncing puck from getting past him with about one minute left in regulation of a tie game, and Chris Kelly squeezed a shot through Martin Jones while holding off Marc-Edouard Vlasic. The Sens added an empty netter, beating San Jose for the fifth straight time, 4-2.

Braun offered his perspective of the game-winner.

"It was just bouncing in the neutral zone,” he said. “I feel [Kelly] coming on me, and I'm trying to whack it over to [Joe Thornton and] miss. Miss with my feet. … You want to have that one back. Other than that, I think the boys played pretty well."

While Braun could have played that one differently, the Sharks probably deserved better than to be tied at 2-2 at that stage. They outshot Ottawa, 37-17, and out-attempted the Senators a whopping 78-36.

Despite a strong first period, they fell behind 2-0.

On an early power play, Mark Stone was the beneficiary of a deflected puck in front of the net, when Mike Hoffman’s shot hit both Paul Martin and Brent Burns before squirting to Stone. Erik Karlsson increased the lead to 2-0 with a wrist shot through a screen a few minutes later.

“Take a penalty, they get a lucky bounce, they score a goal, [then] they go up two on a shot through traffic,” Logan Couture said. “I thought we had most of the chances in that first.”

No one had better chances throughout the night than Joe Pavelski, who was the best player on the ice. The Sharks captain was robbed in front of the net twice late in the first period, rang a shot off the crossbar in the second on a breakaway, and in the third his desperation attempt on a loose puck just outside of the blue paint was snared by Ottawa goalie Mike Condon.

Pavelski finished with a game-high seven shots, and 10 shot attempts altogether.

“That’s the way it goes,” he said. “We’ve won games 2-1, 3-2. Tonight we didn’t find that extra one, and some of the chances we had, we have to get it.”

The power play got one in the second period, courtesy of Couture, but could have had more on its six opportunities. That 1-for-6 stood out on the scoresheet to coach Pete DeBoer.

“I thought the power play maybe could have won us the game,” he said.

Even with wins in six of their last seven entering Wednesday night, though, the Sharks are still struggling to score. They have two or fewer scores in eight of their last 11 games, although they’ve managed to go a respectable 6-4-1 over that span.

They continue to get goals from the usual suspects like Couture (seven goals in 10 games) and Brent Burns, who had the game-tying goal in the third period (his fifth in eight games), but the depth scoring just hasn’t shown up nearly one-third into the season. It’s clearly becoming an issue as evidenced by DeBoer’s constantly shuffling his lines, which he did again late Wednesday.

The coach downplayed a suggestion that the depth scorers aren’t holding their water, though.

“We've been managing to find ways to win games and get enough goals to win,” DeBoer said. “Just didn't happen tonight, even though the shots and most of the play was in our favor. We just didn't win."

While the shot and scoring chance discrepancy was encouraging, the last minute loss meant it was all for naught.

“You’re never happy when you lose, especially [when] you give up a late goal, you want to at least get a point out of that game,” Couture said. “I thought we were the better team, start to finish. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t find a way to get the third one.”