Concerns rising over safety in auto racing

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Concerns rising over safety in auto racing

From Comcast SportsNet
MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) -- Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel wants motor racing safety improvements following the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, although drivers accept the dangers involved. The Red Bull driver called Wheldon's death a "big loss" but said risks can not be avoided. "The bottom line is what we do might not be the safest so there is always some risk but we are ready to take that into account because we love racing and we love motor sports and it is dangerous," Vettel said Wednesday. The 33-year-old Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, died Sunday in a fiery wreck at an IndyCar race in Las Vegas. The last F1 driver killed on the track was Ayrton Senna in 1994. Despite some claims that F1 has become "too safe," Vettel stressed that Wheldon's death shows racing should never stop trying to improve safety. "The last couple of years we've had some big crashes and luckily no big injuries or worse than that," the 24-year-old German driver said. "We should never give up on trying to make racing safer in general." Vettel was back at the Red Bull team factory on Wednesday to celebrate becoming the youngest two-time F1 champion. He insisted motivation would not be lacking over the season's final three races as he is three wins away from matching Michael Schumacher's record of 13 victories in a season and two pole positions away from equaling Nigel Mansell's record 14. "It's been an extremely successful year, especially when you start to realize what we have achieved so far and the season is not over yet. Winning the championship with four races to go is something that doesn't happen every day," Vettel said. "(But) if you expect to stay unbeatable then that is the first day you will be beaten." Vettel and his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the priority now was to ensure teammate Mark Webber finished the season with a race win and second-place in the drivers' standings with the team having already clinched the constructors' championship. Fourth-place Webber trails current runner-up Jenson Button by only 13 points. Vettel said improved maturity made his second title easier than his first -- when he won the last race to edge Fernando Alonso of Ferrari -- and even made mention of a long-term goal of Schumacher's seven career championships. But he quickly backed off from lofty ambitions, too. "I don't really set myself a target for wins, records," Vettel said. "I'm not racing for stats." Vettel clinched the title in Japan and then won the subsequent Korean GP on Sunday, only returning home after that, and to a cold house. "It was quite cold so I put the fire on. I have a problem with the heating," Vettel said of the first thing he did after getting home as two-time world champion.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.