Giants Insider notes: Boss is back


Giants Insider notes: Boss is back

May 10, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the 1-0 victory over the visiting Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.The Boss is back: Monday's day off didn't do anything to cool off Cody Ross, who has shrugged off an ugly start to his season by coming up big time and again during the Giants' recent hot streak; he was 4-for-9 in his past four games entering Tuesday's content, including a 2-for-3 performance that featured his first homer of the year and three RBIs on Sunday. Erasing an evening of offensive frustration with one swing of the bat, Ross laced a line drive down the left-field line with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to score pinch runner Darren Ford from second base for yet another heart-stopping, walkoff win -- San Francisco's fourth consecutive victory and sixth in seven games -- at China Basin.Awesome unrewarded: Tim Lincecum, coming off a brilliant 12-strikeout performance against the Mets, picked up where he left off by holding the Diamondbacks hitless into the sixth inning, when Arizona starter Ian Kennedy broke up the bid for history with a one-out single. Lincecum's eight shutout innings of four-hit work with two walks and nine strikeouts represented his sixth quality start in eight assignments this season, but the Giants' inability to solve Kennedy -- eight shutout, four hits, three walks, eight strikeouts -- represented the fifth time that Lincecum, who was lifted for pinch hitter Pat Burrell (groundout to second base) in the bottom of the eighth, has received two or fewer runs of support.
RECAP: More magic -- Ross gives Giants fifth walk-off win
More failing The Freak: Tuesday also marked the third time this year the Giants haven't scored for Lincecum at all, and it was the fourth time in his career that he's pitched at least seven shutout innings only to be stuck with a no-decision. Since 2007, only Seattle's Felix Hernandez and St. Louis' Chris Carpenter have been ND's more often despite spinning such gems, each with five.Second-guesser's delight: With Lincecum clearly on his game from the outset, any proponent of small ball likely saw Giants manager Bruce Bochy's decision not to call for a sacrifice bunt from Cody Ross with runners at first and second and nobody out in the fourth inning as a mistake. It's worth noting, however, that Ross has all of two sacrifice bunts in eight seasons as a big leaguer. Bochy had another chance to play for one run with small ball when the Giants loaded the bases with one out later in the frame, but if you were expecting the skipper to call for a squeeze in that situation, you might want to brush up on the man's approach to offensive baseball. That's just not how he rolls.Welcome back: Fresh off the disabled list, Andres Torres returned to his customary spots in center field and atop the Giants' lineup, and he wasted little time in reminding the home crowd what it's been missing as he worked his way back from an injured Achilles tendon. In the top of the first, Torres made a nice running, over-the-shoulder grape of a drive off the bat of Mora, and he opened the bottom of the frame with a single to center.Rusty DeRosa: Also fresh off the DL, Mark DeRosa, who was given the start over struggling Miguel Tejada at third base, struck out with two runners on to end the second inning and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fourth on the way to going 0-for-3.
NEWS: DeRosa, Torres return; Rohlinger, Burriss sent down
Little League lapse: When you get a break against a pitcher of Lincecum's caliber, don't get greedy. That's the lesson that Diamondbacks first baseman Miranda learned the hard way Tuesday, when he reached on a throwing error by second baseman Freddy Sanchez. As soon as the throw got past first baseman Aubrey Huff, Juan Miranda broke for second, but the ball caromed directly back to Huff's whose throw beat Miranda to second base by a good 10 feet. It was the kind of play you see every weekend -- in games played by 11- and 12-year-olds. DL downlow: Righty reliever Santiago Casilla (inflamed elbow) threw 35 pitches in a simulated game and is expected to soon be sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment that could include stints at Single-A San Jose and Triple-A Fresno. Lefty Barry Zito (sprained ligament in right foot) played catch at 90 feet before batting practice and will throw off a mound Wednesday for the first time since suffering the injury April 17. Disabled for the first time in his career, Zito said he has no idea when he might be back but expects to throw off the mound a few times before heading out on a rehab assignment. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval (right hand) was allowed to take ground balls for the first time since his May 3 surgery and said everything felt "perfect." He's expected to be out another 3-5 weeks.

Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

Sharks rue 'key moments' as they are knocked out by Oilers

SAN JOSE – The clock said there was seven minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the third period. It was frozen there for a bit after Patrick Marleau’s goal brought the Sharks back to within a single score of Edmonton.

Filled to capacity, the Shark Tank came to life, ravenous for the equalizer. The next several minutes offered a reminder of the team’s thrilling 2016 playoff run, when the Sharks finished just two wins away from a championship while taking their fans along for a ride they had never been on in a quarter-century.

But those seven minutes and 48 seconds quickly wound down, leaving the Sharks worlds away from what they did just a year ago. The Oilers held on for a 3-1 win, ending the Sharks’ season in a first round series that lasted six games.

Other than Game 4, a Sharks blowout victory, all the games were competitive.

“There were just a couple key moments in the series,” Joe Pavelski said.

In Game 6, the key moments that won the game for Edmonton came early in the second period. Justin Braun’s point shot was blocked leading to Leon Draisaitl’s goal to open the scoring, and Chris Tierney’s pass to Paul Martin at the point was just off the mark, allowing Anton Slepyshev to glide ahead untouched for another goal. The scores both came within the first two minutes of the middle frame, and were just 56 seconds apart.

That was probably poetic justice in that the Oilers were the much more aggressive and hungry team in the first period, they just weren't rewarded on the scoreboard.

Joe Thornton agreed with a suggestion that the Sharks were “a little bit sloppy” early, “but we got better. I thought we played a great second period and pushed in the third period. Just not enough time left on the clock.”

The Sharks did seem to get their game going just after Slepyshev’s score, but couldn’t solve Cam Talbot more than once. Pavelski nearly tied it with 3:45 to go, but his backhander from down low glanced off of both the crossbar and the post.

Key moments.

“It felt good coming off the stick, it really did,” Pavelski said of his chance. “It was there.”

Connor McDavid’s empty net goal with less than a second on the clock capped the scoring, sending the Oilers and former Sharks coach Todd McLellan on to the second round. 

Other than Game 4, which they dominated 7-0, the Sharks managed just seven goals in the other five games. Brent Burns failed to record a point in five of the six games, while Pavelski had just a single assist outside of Game 4.

The depth scorers also failed to come through, no surprise after the Sharks got little from them for much of the season.

“They defended well, Talbot played well. They were all close games,” Pete DeBoer said. “You’ve got to find a way to win 1-0, 2-1 in the playoffs. It’s not realistic you’re going to get three or four every night. They found a way to win more of the close games than we did.”

Burns said: “Series was pretty tight. I think it’s like Pavs said, it’s just little moments here and there. So much is luck, just puck luck, creating that luck. It’s a tight series, back and forth.”

The Sharks face an uncertain offseason, as there is little reason to believe their current roster, as constructed, will be able to compete with an Oilers team that has not only proven to be better now but is only going to improve. Whether Thornton and Marleau return remains an uncertainty, too.

“This is a big summer. We’ve got some guys that are up, and the expansion draft and whatnot,” Logan Couture said. 

“Every year I’ve been in this league, the team has never been the same the next year. There’s always been changes. Unfortunately, that’s the way that this league works. We’ll see what happens this summer, and come back hungrier next year.”

In the meantime, the Oilers will continue their push for a Stanley Cup while San Jose’s visit to the final round last year will only become more and more of a distant memory.

San Jose Sharks fans may have just witnessed the end of an era

San Jose Sharks fans may have just witnessed the end of an era

Melodrama demands that San Jose’s exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs be portrayed as the very likely end of the Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau Era.

It probably won’t work that way, and probably shouldn't as will be explained further down your reading, but when you get shoved out of the postseason in your own building, melancholy is the order of the day. Even if the melancholy isn’t for any player in particular, but for an entire era.

Nobody will blame Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference quarterfinal on bad luck (although Joe Pavelski going crossbar/post on the final power play of their season was close enough to it), or unjust officiating, or even lousy ice (though that was a fairly clear by-product for those who like their hockey a little less sticky). Edmonton took advantage of two critical Sharks errors 56 seconds apart in the second period, Oiler goaltender Cam Talbot cheated the gods multiple times when the Sharks weren’t vomiting up chances on their own, and young legs joined up with growing know-how to make this a just outcome.

But for Thornton and Marleau, a quick round of 30-on-1 interviews asking them if they thought their days in Finville Heights had finally come to an end were their mutual introduction to yet another unfulfilling offseason.

And a team whose core is among the league’s oldest was just exposed for that very flaw by a team that, in head coach Todd McLellan’s words, “Grew up, learned how to get into the playoffs, how to get a lead, how to play with it, and how to deal with a desperate team at the end of a game. Now we’ll see what they have to learn next.”

That learning will comes against the Anaheim Ducks, who are 15-0-3 in their last 18 games, including four straight against the Calgary Flames.

As for the rest of it, Edmonton earned its advancement without a big series, or even a single big game, from Connor McDavid. Rather, their difference makers were Talbot, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (whose work with Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic against the Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski line was the defining matchup) Leon Draisaitl (after a rocky start), Oskar Klefbom (their best defenseman), Zack Kassian (who made the most of his 15 minutes of fame), and Drake Caggiula (whose promotion to the McDavid line at the expense of Patrick Maroon helped wake up Draisaitl).

Plus, McLellan finally got to deliver a rebuttal for his firing by the Sharks two years ago. He didn’t, of course, at least not where anyone could hear it, but the exploding fumigant of the 2015 season never sat right with him as the one who paid the full retail price. Now, with this result, he can let the NHL’s Stanley Cup media guide do the talking for him.

That, and having the team of the future, while San Jose is trying to sort out its past. This is a closing window, one which stayed open a very long time and actually pried itself back open a year ago for the run that took them to the Cup final, but it is now clear that they play at a pace the modern game has outrun. Thornton is still hugely important (he remained an impact player despite the leg injury that cost him Games 1 and 2), and there are no clear young replacements for the central group.

This is why all the melodramatic speculations about Thornton and Marleau in particular and perhaps the entire era ignore one central truth – there are not nearly enough replacements for a reboot, or even a course correction. They may be stuck as what they are – a group whose veterans are still their best players, playing a game that younger and faster players are likely to do better. The Pacific Division, being easily the thinnest of the four, may allow one more year of status quo, but while the day of reckoning has not yet arrived, the method is now clear.

And Edmonton, young, impetuous, sprightly and McLellanized Edmonton, has been the instrument of San Jose’s education.