Giants even series with 4-2 win over Brewers

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Giants even series with 4-2 win over Brewers

July 23, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Ryan Vogelsong already has figured out the easiest way to win with the San Francisco Giants: Just give the bullpen a lead.He's done it better than anyone this season.Vogelsong labored through five innings to regain the National League's best ERA, five relievers combined to throw four scoreless innings and the Giants beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 on Saturday night."Winners find a way to win, and he kept his composure," said bearded closer Brian Wilson, who tossed a five-pitch ninth for his 30th save. "Guys were ecstatic to get him the win."Vogelsong (8-1) allowed two runs on seven hits in one of his least spectacular outings of the season, grinding out one of his hardest-earned victories. The journeyman All-Star piled up enough innings for his 2.10 ERA to qualify for the lowest in the league again, just ahead of Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens' 2.28.Nate Schierholtz drove in two runs and Aubrey Huff delivered the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the fifth. Andres Torres also had a run-scoring single in front of an announced crowd of 42,277, San Francisco's 49th straight sellout crowd - which along with players, love to cheer on Vogelsong in what has become a storybook season for a guy who bounced around the minors and Japan for years."There was definitely another notch in the department of loud tonight," Wilson said.Randy Wolf (6-8) gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings for the Brewers, who fell back into a tie with St. Louis in the NL Central. Both are one game ahead of Pittsburgh."They're tough. They don't give up a lot of runs. Their bullpen's outstanding, so when they have a lead after the sixth, they're tough," Wolf said.Vogelsong, taking the mound a day after his 34th birthday, has become the most reliable pitcher in one of baseball's best rotations. Almost as remarkable, the right-hander's only blemish this season remains a 1-0 loss to Florida on May 26 - the day San Francisco found out star catcher Buster Posey was out for the year with a torn ankle.Even on a night he was hardly at his best, Vogelsong's mistakes were minor.
Giants Insider gallery: Bullpen wins it for Vogelsong
Ryan Braun hit the first pitch of the fourth inning over the left-field wall to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead. The home run was Braun's 19th.Two batters later, Giants bench coach Ron Wotus was ejected by plate umpire Sam Holbrook for arguing balls and strikes. He had to be restrained by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, and the few minutes of bickering allowed Vogelsong to regroup."I told him thank you," Vogelsong said of Wotus. "It definitely motivated me a little bit."The Giants also backed their starter with a trio of spectacular defensive plays.Rickie Weeks was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Cody Ross later in the fourth, sliding in a toe late on a sharp tag by catcher Chris Stewart. After Yuniesky Betancourt singled, Stewart faked a throw to second and caught Casey McGehee heading for the plate from third for an easy out.After Schierholtz put San Francisco ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning with a two-run double, Nyjer Morgan shook off boos and hit an RBI double in the fifth to even the score. The San Francisco native, who taunted the home fans a night earlier with repeated hand gestures following a running grab against the wall in center, pumped his arms in the air after sliding into second.Morgan was thrown out trying to take third on a ball in the dirt with Braun at the plate with two outs, and fans mockingly gave him an extended standing ovation.The Giants followed that up by manufacturing a run the hard way. Mike Fontenot moved Aaron Rowand to second on a sacrifice bunt, and he went to third on Pablo Sandoval's infield single.Huff lifted a sacrifice fly to left to put San Francisco ahead 3-2. Andres Torres added a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth to give the Giants a 4-2 lead.Relievers Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Wilson all held Milwaukee scoreless over the final four innings."You can't say enough about the bullpen," Bochy said. "What they've done, it's been fun to watch. They've saved us so many times."Notes: Giants LHP Jonathan Sanchez, on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, will make one more rehab start for Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday. ... The Giants held a softball game for players' children two hours before the game as part of the team's family day. ... Brewers 1B Prince Fielder might get a rare day to rest Sunday with an off day scheduled Monday, manager Ron Roenicke said.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.