Giants hold on for dramatic 4-3 win in Detroit

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Giants hold on for dramatic 4-3 win in Detroit

July 1, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
DETROIT (AP) Brian Wilson stepped into the dugout, picked up a water cooler and heaved it against the bench. Then he grabbed a bat, trotted back over and gave the cooler a hefty slug.Nothing is coming easy for the San Francisco Giants right now - even when they win.The Giants finally caught a break after Wilson's ninth-inning meltdown Friday night. Detroit's Brennan Boesch lined into a double play with the bases loaded, and San Francisco held on for a 4-3 victory over the Tigers."Give yourself 30 seconds to completely lose it, then come back and be a part of the team," Wilson said.Wilson blew a save opportunity for the second straight day - this time when he allowed Magglio Ordonez's RBI single in the eighth inning. San Francisco then scored three runs in the top of the ninth to go ahead 4-1, but Wilson (6-1) couldn't close it out. He had to be pulled with one out, the bases loaded and a run already in.That's when he took a bat and went raging across the dugout. After disposing of the timber, the right-hander appeared to hit a box with his throwing hand, but he said afterward it was fine."It's not that enjoyable to go out there and give up two runs," Wilson said.The Giants were coming off back-to-back losses to the Cubs - both in Chicago's last at-bat - and they almost dropped this one, too.Jeremy Affeldt replaced Wilson, and Detroit pulled within one when second baseman Emmanuel Burriss muffed a slow grounder for an error. Boesch was up next and made solid contact, but hit the ball to right to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who caught the line drive and quickly stepped on second to double off Brandon Inge, ending the game.It was Affeldt's third save of the season."I threw a curve that didn't go where I wanted, but he hit it off the end of the bat," Affeldt said. "I was like, 'Please no ... oh, yes.'"The Tigers dropped a half-game behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.Madison Bumgarner allowed a run and five hits over 7 1-3 outstanding innings for San Francisco. He struck out nine and walked one.Bumgarner departed following a walk by Inge. Sergio Romo came on and got the second out of the inning, but Javier Lopez then took the mound and allowed a single to pinch-hitter Boesch.Wilson was next out of the bullpen, and Ordonez greeted him with a single to right to make it 1-1.It didn't stay tied for long. Chris Stewart led off the ninth with a double, and Aaron Rowand followed with a single, reaching base as part of his broken bat went flying over the third-base dugout.One out later, Pablo Sandoval hit a ground-rule double to left-center to make it 2-1. The Giants added two more runs when Jose Valverde (2-3) and Brayan Villarreal issued bases-loaded walks.Rowand had three hits."We've had two similar losses in a row, so this would have been really tough," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Proud of the guys. They came through in the ninth and put up a crooked number when we haven't been cashing those in."Detroit's Brad Penny allowed a run and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out two and walked two.The Giants threatened early, putting runners at first and third with nobody out in the first. Penny got out of the jam thanks to a fantastic play by left fielder Casper Wells. Sandoval lifted a foul ball toward the seats, and Wells not only caught it amid reaching fans - but he also threw home to catch Rowand, who had tagged up at third."That was an extraordinary play," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.Sandoval made the most of his next big opportunity. With Rowand on second and two outs in the fifth, he sliced an 0-2 pitch to the gap in left-center for an RBI double.Bumgarner has been excellent since being knocked out in the first inning of a June 21 start against Minnesota. In his two outings since then, he's allowed two runs in 14 1-3 innings, with 20 strikeouts and two walks.Detroit's Lester Oliveros made his major league debut in the eighth, striking out two and allowing a hit and a walk in an inning. Oliveros was called up from the minors to replace Al Alburquerque, who went on the disabled list with inflammation of his right arm.NOTES: Detroit 2B Carlos Guillen (left knee) is transferring from Class-A Lakeland to Triple-A Toledo as part of his rehabilitation assignment. ... San Francisco plans to start LHP Barry Zito on three days' rest Saturday, with RHP Ryan Vogelsong taking the mound Sunday. Zito and Vogelsong both pitched in a doubleheader Tuesday. ... Victor Martinez has been with the Tigers barely a half-season, and he's already impressed Leyland. Martinez has made the transition to designated hitter look easy. He's hitting .332. "I can't say enough about him," Leyland said before Friday's game. "He's one of the best teammates I've ever managed or been around."

Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks

Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks

So the Golden State Warriors don’t get a commuter series after all, and they get to play a team that plays as slow as they play fast, and they get to play at altitude – all things we will pretend matter greatly when this Western Conference semifinal series begins Tuesday night.

It won’t.

Well, let’s calm down a bit. It almost certainly won’t.

The Utah Jazz is not an easy out, not by a long shot. For one, they are not a mere shard of their former selves as the Clippers would have been. For two, they are pretty damned healthy as playoff basketball teams go. And for three, they are Memphis-funky, by which we mean like the Grizzlies, they pose conundrums unlike most teams that take awhile to break down and reassemble in a more digestible form.

On the other hand, they are not of Warrior quality, and though that seems frankly too smug by half, it is nonetheless true.

Now while the Golden States have their own issues – Steve Kerr’s head, Kevin Durant’s calf and Stephen Curry’s shoes – the Jazz are counterpunchers in the parlance. Not good enough to knock you out, but good enough to make you punch yourselves into exhaustion.

Golden State is 14-4 against the Jazz in the last five years, but it is the last year that counts most because this is the season in which the Jazz decided to attack the Warriors from beyond the three-point arc rather than the more traditional Rudy Gobert-Derrick Favors-low block route. Thus seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider that the one game Utah won, the 81st game of the season, they took 38 threes without Gordon Hayward playing, but head coach Quin Snyder has shown himself to be a more flexible coach than the one who collapsed at the college level.

But the way to understand the Jazz is not concern oneself with what they do but with what they will attempt to prevent the Warriors from doing. The Jazz ranks 2nd in threes allowed and percentage of those threes made, and they also rank a demonstrative last in pace.

So what we’re really talking about here, for those who want to get beneath the we’re-better-than-you-are nyah-nyah-nyah level, is whether Utah can make Golden State what it wants rather than the other way around. If Utah gets its way, the scores will be in the high-nineties, low-hundreds range, as they are 37-10 holding the opponent under 100 points (including the Clipper series), while the Warriors were held under 100 only six times.

Conversely, the Warriors held 29 teams under 100, and were 27-2 in those games, so the Warriors are actually more efficient than Utah even at a languid pace.

In other words, the Warriors are better at what Utah does than Utah is, which is probably why you will see and hear lots of smug this week and next among all non-Warrior employees. Barring injury, or Mike Brown quitting coaching and turning the job over to . . . well, actually the only name that might even pose a threat here is Quin Snyder . . . the Warriors have no business being extended beyond five games.

But that was the logic that fans took into last year’s Oklahoma City series, and the Memphis series before that. Not every series is 2016 Houston or 2015 New Orleans, and no titles are ordained, as anyone who watched the last five minutes of Game 7 last year an grumpily testify.

In other words, Utah will make this harder than it looks, even if it doesn’t end up looking that hard, if that makes any sense, which it actually doesn’t.

Just trust us on this. Utah lost 10 games by double digits this year. They fall reluctantly and with considerable rancor. But these are the Warriors, and ultimately, the chances are considerable to the point of prohibitive that they will indeed fall.

We think.

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors marched through the first round of the playoffs, winning by an average of 18 points while sweeping Portland, the second round shapes up to be considerably more difficult.

The Utah Jazz are much deeper, play some of the best defense in the NBA and play their home games at altitude, which partially explains why only five teams posted better records at home.

That the Warriors won two of the three regular-season meetings is somewhat inconsequential. In two of those games, Utah was without All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill. Power forward Derrick Favors missed all three games.

Regardless of the results of this series, there definitely will be a different look.

Here is our preview of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series (first-round statistics in parenthesis):

MATCHUPS

POINT GUARD: Stephen Curry (29.8 points per game, 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds) vs. George Hill (16.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.1 rpg): Hill’s availability was been crucial to the regular-season success of the Jazz; he missed 33 games. Utah was 15-1, however, when he scored at least 20 points. Curry may be the most dangerous scorer among all point guards, and he’ll be a load for Hill. EDGE: Curry.

SHOOTING GUARD: Klay Thompson (18.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg) vs. Joe Ingles (6.6 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.9 rpg): Aside from a couple brief hot streaks, Thompson struggled with his shot in the first round. He’ll fix that, and he’ll torch Ingles (or Rodney Hood). Ingles is crafty inside but of most concern when he’s beyond the arc. He has little chance of producing offense with Thompson as the primary defender. EDGE: Thompson.

SMALL FORWARD: Kevin Durant (21.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) vs. Gordon Hayward (23.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.9 apg): Two All-Stars, only one of which is headed for the Hall of Fame. The Jazz, quite simply, have no answer for Durant’s offensive arsenal. Their best hope is that he is assigned to Hayward and has to expend energy on defense. EDGE: Durant.

POWER FORWARD: Draymond Green (13.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 4.3 blocks per game) vs. Boris Diaw (6.0 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.7 rpg): Oddly enough, Diaw, because of his bulk and passing ability, is one of the few players who can give Green fits. Diaw won’t score much, but Utah could play through him at times. Green will try to run the big man off the floor. EDGE: Green.

CENTER: Zaza Pachulia (6.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) vs. Rudy Gobert (8.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg): Pachulia will need plenty of help from his bench, and he’ll get it. His role will be to free up scorers for shots coming off picks. Opportunities will be there, because Gobert tends to hunker down in the paint. He’s a terrific shot-blocker, but don’t be surprised if the Warriors test him inside. EDGE: Gobert.

SIXTH MAN: Andre Iguodala (7.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), 4.5 apg) vs. Joe Johnson (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg): This is a fun matchup of wily veterans who rely on profoundly different styles. While Iguodala plays fast and is disruptive on defense, Johnson is deliberate and offensive-minded and is playing very well. Johnson also is among the game’s best clutch shooters. Iguodala finds more subtle ways to make an impact. EDGE: Even.

BENCHES: The Warriors are about as healthy as they have been at any time over the past two months, which means they are deep with players capable of producing. Matt Barnes is ready and Shaun Livingston is set to return no later than Game 2. The Warriors have considerable size, and they’ll need it. JaVale McGee and David West will come in handy against the likes of Favors, Diaw and Gobert. Both benches were effective in the first round. EDGE: Warriors, but it’s slight.

COACHING: With Steve Kerr out indefinitely, Mike Brown remains as acting head coach. He has plenty of postseason experience, as does veteran assistant Ron Adams. Jazz coach Quin Snyder did a tremendous job in the regular season when a slew of injuries could have knocked the team off course. He also is coming off his first playoff series victory as a head coach. EDGE: Warriors, due to experience.

ORACLE VS. VIVINT: Oracle Arena was massive for the Warriors in their first round, at times waking thunderous echoes of the “We Believe” experience in 2007. Vivint Smart Home Arena has a well-earned reputation for hurling loud insults at visiting players. The Utah crowd had better be careful, though, because the Warriors tend to thrive off crowd abuse. EDGE: Oracle.

PREDICTION: Warriors in four, five if they get bored.