SAN FRANCISCO -- After starting the Pac-12 season with back-to-back losses, California has a lot more to worry about than a blowout loss a year ago to Southern California.When that loss was as thorough and humiliating as that 48-14 game at the Los Angeles Coliseum was for the Golden Bears, it's hard to forget it completely."It's always a new season, a new game," safety Sean Cattouse said. "It's all about us this year, just doing things right this year. But it's definitely something that we're amped to get the taste out of our mouth from last year. It's a motivation. Probably not the biggest, but it's nothing that we've forgotten."It would be hard to forget that day when the Trojans rolled out to a 42-0 halftime lead and coasted to the victory. USC gained 373 yards in the opening half and held Cal scoreless until the closing minutes of the third quarter after it was already 45-0.Matt Barkley threw a school record-tying five touchdowns, Robert Woods had seven catches for 116 yards and two scores and the Trojans had their way with the Bears."Everybody has those games every year or two where even if you call a play that's not supposed to work, somebody makes a great play or they get a ball tipped," USC coach Lane Kiffin said. "It was just one of those games where everything went our way and nothing went their way. That's why it was 42-0 at half."Cal (3-2, 0-2) looks to put together a much stronger performance in this year's rematch against the Trojans (4-1, 2-1) at their temporary home of AT&T Park on Thursday night.Cal's offense looks much different this year than it did under stationary quarterback Kevin Riley in 2010. Zach Maynard provides a scrambling threat at quarterback"It's been different than what we've faced the past couple of weeks," Kiffin said. "We've had some extra time and have really focused on stopping him running. We don't want to let him beat us with his feet. We want to take away his run game and make him beat us throwing the ball."Maynard has struggled to do that so far this season, completing just 51.4 percent of his passes. He does have a knack for the big play, averaging 13.7 yards per completion.He struggled last week with his mechanics in a 43-15 loss at Oregon, completing just 20 of 41 passes and failing to lead Cal on a single scoring drive in the second half."His feet were a little live," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He was a little jittery and it caused him to miss a couple throws where we had some guys open. I think he rushed himself a little bit. Early there were a couple that the ball was really wet, you could see it come out of his hand funny, but he threw some great balls, too. There were a couple he missed because was rushing himself a little bit."Maynard will have to be much better this week because unfortunately for Cal, USC's offense looks quite similar to last year's model.Woods was just starting to break out as a freshman in his big game against Cal a year ago, but now he has become one of the nation's top receivers.He leads the nation with 149.4 yards receiving per game and is averaging 11 catches a contest."He's very fast, catches the ball exceptionally well, runs very good routes," Tedford said. "And after he catches the ball he's very hard to bring down. He's elusive, he can make you miss and he can make big plays. They can throw him a 5-yard hitch and it can turn into a very long play."Making the task of dealing with Woods even more difficult is the fact that freshman Marqise Lee is also a dangerous threat with 21 catches for 323 yards and three scores.The Bears have their own dynamic duo at receiver with Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones, who have combined for 68 catches for 1,109 yards and seven touchdowns."I'm not going to shoot them down," Lee said. "I do believe they've got a great receiver corps over there. It's going to be a competition with the best of the best receivers. I always feel we're one of the top receiver corps in the nation. I don't want to say we're the top, but I feel like we're up there with the other ones. We've got to keep competing, showing what we can do."Cal will likely have to deal with that duo without injured cornerback Marc Anthony, who is expected to be replaced in the lineup by freshman Stefan McClure."We're going to try to keep an eye on him and communicate with him," Cattouse said. "Just try to be there for him, make sure he's where he's supposed to be and just look out for him when I can. He's going to handle himself. He's in a good place right now."
Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.
Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one.
In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame.
Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports.
After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports.
Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season.
The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball.
The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.
For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started.
The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way.
“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.
“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”
Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low.
The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope.
In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out.
In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence.
In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.
“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”
In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time.
“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”
Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right.
“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”
Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI.
Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder.
“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”