Staff aces collide as A's open series in Texas


Staff aces collide as A's open series in Texas

May 9, 2011

A's (18-17) vs.
TEXAS (18-17)

Coverage begins at 4:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

TEXAS (AP) -- For the second time in less than two weeks, Oakland's Trevor Cahill and Texas' C.J. Wilson will square off in a matchup of staff aces and they're coming off dominating performances.

Cahill will try to become the second six-game winner in the majors and Wilson looks to avenge his lone loss of the year Monday night when the Athletics travel to begin a three-game set with the Rangers.

On April 29 in Oakland, Cahill (5-0, 1.79 ERA) outpitched Wilson (4-1, 2.92) in the Athletics' 3-1 win. That opened a four-game set with the A's taking three in the teams' only series so far this year.

REWIND: Cahill leads A's over Wilson, Rangers in series-opener

Each pitcher went seven innings, but while Cahill overcame three walks in the first and allowed only seven hits, Wilson was tagged for three runs and nine hits.

"Trevor Cahill's always tough on us," left fielder David Murphy said. "I don't even think he had his best stuff tonight."

Cahill has more career wins over Texas than any other opponent, going 7-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 10 starts.

The right-hander will try to join Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels with six wins, and reduce the second-lowest ERA in the majors behind Florida's Josh Johnson (1.68).

Oakland (18-17) and Texas (18-17) are tied for second in the AL West, two games behind Los Angeles. Last-place Seattle, with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez and budding rookie Michael Pineda, is just four games back.

"Because there is so much pitching in the division, anyone can have an opportunity," Rangers manager Ron Washington told the team's official website.

Following the initial meeting, Cahill snapped Cleveland's seven-game winning streak by allowing a run and five hits over seven innings in a 3-1 victory Wednesday.

Later that night, Wilson tied a career high with 12 strikeouts in a six-hitter as Texas topped Seattle 5-2.

"For me it's more surgical. That's the way I try to pitch. That's the way I always try to pitch," the left-hander said.

Wilson is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two career home starts against Oakland.

Texas, which is continuing a nine-game homestand, lost two of three to the New York Yankees, including a 12-5 defeat Sunday. The Rangers have gone 4-10 since sweeping the Royals from April 22-24.

"We're in a little grind right now, but we have to keep battling and get out there and make a change," first baseman Mike Napoli said. "We come out to win every series. We're not playing good ball right now. We know it. We need to get out there and have good energy and make plays."

Designated hitter Michael Young went 0 for 3 Sunday after a four-hit game in the Rangers' 7-5 win the previous night. Young still leads the AL with 47 hits and is batting .341.

He's also batting .360 (9 for 25) with two homers and nine RBIs in a six-game hitting streak against Oakland, and is 6 for 21 against Cahill.

The A's opened a six-game swing by taking two of three from Kansas City, winning 5-2 Sunday. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Kurt Suzuki each homered and Conor Jackson had three hits.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”



Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers


Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

ANAHEIM – When you have a guy on your roster that just broke into the NHL’s top 25 in scoring, it’s probably difficult to tell him how to play the game.

Still, Joe Thornton is not putting up offensive numbers he’s accustomed to. Through 26 games, Thornton has just two goals and 14 assists for 16 points. Somewhat shockingly, both of his goals have come into an empty net, meaning he has yet to beat a single goaltender with a shot with nearly one-third of the schedule already in the books.

Coach Pete DeBoer remarked on Friday morning, “I think every coach that he’s ever played for would like him to shoot more.”

But has DeBoer told Thornton, who has 27 shots, to shoot more?

“I haven’t recently,” he said. “We’ve had conversations like all coaches do about it, but I pretty much let him play his game. I think most of the conversations we have are about other parts of the game.”

"For me, he does so many things so well for us that we’re not piling on that he needs to score or shoot more. He’s got to play his game, and the offense will come. He stirs our offensive drink, so to speak, and he does it well. I’m not worried about the fact that he doesn’t have goals, no.”

There’s reason to believe Thornton will pick up his production. In fact, his start this season is nearly identical to last year, when he had 15 points (3g, 12a) through 26 games. Over the final four months he up 66 points after Dec. 15, tied for Sidney Crosby for the most in the NHL.

The alternate captain indicated the Sharks’ short summer, combined with his playing for Team Canada in the World Cup, might have taken a toll on his 37-year-old body.

“Going deeper in the postseason I think, it just starts a little bit different – plus the World Cup started earlier. You just kind of jam it in,” he said. “I feel good lately, and hopefully [I’ll] continue it.”

Not surprisingly, the famously laid back Thornton isn’t concerned with the fact he doesn’t have any non-empty netters yet.

“They’ll eventually go in. It’s no secret I’m more of a pass-first guy,” he said. “When you don’t expect it, that’s when they usually come. I haven’t been squeezing my stick or anything.”

“It comes at the strangest times. For whatever reason, you get hot for little stretches of time. I’ve never been one to worry too much.”