Punchless Giants open series with Twins at AT&T


Punchless Giants open series with Twins at AT&T

June 21, 2011

MINNESOTA (31-39) vs.
GIANTS (39-33)

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

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- While the Minnesota Twins have barely climbed out of last place in the AL Central, they'll be feeling a whole lot better than the first-place San Francisco Giants when the teams meet for the first time in six years Tuesday night.

That's because the Twins (31-39) have begun to overcome a dismal start by winning 14 of 16 - including their last seven in a row. Drew Butera's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday gave Minnesota a 5-4 victory to cap a three-game sweep of San Diego.

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"We're smiling, we're laughing. Winning's great," infielder Matt Tolbert said. "It's starting to feel like it did last year. We just need to keep the momentum."

That seems possible against San Francisco, which has matched a season worst by losing its last four games.

The Giants (39-33) have scored a total of seven runs while batting .180 during their skid - going 0 for 26 with runners in scoring position. They fell 2-1 at Oakland on Sunday, but kept a half-game lead over Arizona in the NL West because the Diamondbacks also lost.

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"No one is happy," first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "There is no doubt about it that no one is where he wants to be. We have to figure ways to score, and it's going to be no easy task. We have to start working counts, getting on and putting pressure on the other guys."

That doesn't figure to be easy the way Minnesota has been pitching lately. The Twins' 2.01 ERA in June is the best in the majors by a wide margin.

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Carl Pavano (4-5, 4.20 ERA) has thrown two complete games this month, going 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in three starts. He could be fresh for Tuesday's start after needing only 96 pitches to go the distance in a 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

"I feel like I'm settling in a little better as far as getting a little stronger and consistent with the things I'm trying to establish, and so is the team," said Pavano, whose last two interleague starts in 2010 were complete games - including a three-hit shutout against the New York Mets on June 26.

"There's a lot of guys who have stepped in, because we have a lot of injuries, and picked up a lot of guys."

Michael Cuddyer came up big on the Twins' recent homestand, going 14 for 30 (.467) with three homers and 10 RBIs in nine games.

Although Denard Span, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Jim Thome remain out, Joe Mauer returned from the 60-day disabled list Friday. He went 1 for 11 against the Padres.

The Giants were hoping Pablo Sandoval could bolster their offense after returning from a broken hand last week, but he's 3 for 17 (.176) with no RBIs and five strikeouts during the losing streak.

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Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 3.21) has felt the strain of San Francisco's struggling bats all season, getting a team-low 2.8 runs of support per nine innings.

The 21-year-old left-hander hasn't needed much offense lately, though. He's allowed three or fewer runs while pitching at least six innings in each of his last 10 starts, posting a 2.03 ERA in that stretch.

Bumgarner started the Giants' last win, working six innings of a 5-2 victory at Arizona on Wednesday.

This will be the teams' first meeting since 2005, when the Giants took two of three in Minnesota. The Twins won two of three in San Francisco in 2003.

Shanahan wins NFL Assistant Coach of the Year


Shanahan wins NFL Assistant Coach of the Year

Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the presumptive 49ers' next head coach, was announced Thursday as the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

Dallas’ Jason Garrett was selected as NFL Coach of the Year and Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was chosen as NFL Executive of the Year in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America.

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan as head coach until the Falcons’ season has concluded. Atlanta plays host to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

Shanahan interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 5 during the Falcons’ bye week in the playoffs. He is scheduled for a second interview with the club next week, regardless of the outcome of the Falcons’ game Sunday.

Under Shanahan’s direction, the Falcons scored an NFL-best and franchise record 540 points, which tied the 2000 St. Louis Rams for eighth-most in NFL history. Atlanta’s 6,653 total yards ranks No. 13 in NFL history.

The Falcons finished as champions of the NFC South with an 11-5 record and the NFC’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, who was announced this week as the PFWA NFL Most Valuable Player, thrived in Shanahan’s offense. Ryan threw touchdown passes to a NFL-record 13 different receivers and led the league with a 117.1 passer rating.

PFWA names Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Executive of the Year

PFWA names Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Executive of the Year

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was named NFL Executive of the Year, the Pro Football Writers of America announced Thursday.

McKenzie joins Al Davis, who was named Executive of the Year in 2002, as Raiders who have earned the PFWA honor, which was established in 1993.

In 2016, McKenzie’s fifth year as General Manager, the Raiders posted a 12-4 record and advanced to the postseason for the first time since the 2002 campaign. The Raiders had an NFL-high seven Pro Bowl selections, had two players earn first-team All-Pro recognition and DE Khalil Mack was named the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year.

Since being named General Manager by Owner Mark Davis in 2012, four Raiders draft picks have gone on to receive Pro Bowl selections. Mack, the Raiders’ first-round pick in 2014, earned his second straight Pro Bowl nod, while QB Derek Carr, the team’s second-round selection that year, emerged as a Most Valuable Player candidate and has received Pro Bowl invitations in each of the last two seasons. WR Amari Cooper, the team’s first-round pick in 2015, has also earned two Pro Bowl selections after beginning his career with consecutive 1,000-yard receiving campaigns. RB Latavius Murray, a sixth-round pick in 2013, earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2015 and was named an alternate this year.

In addition, 10 players drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round or later since 2013 have started multiple games for the team and six different draft picks have earned All-Rookie honors.

Last offseason, the Raiders signed LB Bruce Irvin, S Reggie Nelson, G/T Kelechi Osemele and CB Sean Smith, securing four of the “top 25 available free agents” according to NFL.com. All seven of the team’s draft picks saw significant action during the season and first-round selection S Karl Joseph was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team. A remarkable seven undrafted free agents, acquired by the Raiders in the weeks following the 2016 NFL Draft, finished the season on the team’s active roster.  

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