Giants Insider notes: Bumgarner earns win No. 1


Giants Insider notes: Bumgarner earns win No. 1

May 19, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 3-1 victory over the host Dodgers on Thursday night in the curtain closer of a two-game series at Chavez Ravine.Thus endeth thy drought: Left-hander Madison Bumgarner entered the game 0-6 in eight starts for the Giants, but he'd posted three consecutive quality starts to establish a modicum of momentum, and it carried over into the last game of San Francisco's six-game road trip. Although he allowed a baserunner in each of the first six innings, Bumgarner never faced more than four batters in a frame, didn't allow a runner past first base through the first eight innings and got sharper as the game wore on. In complete command of his full arsenal of pitches throughout, he ran the count to three balls only four times and was one out away from his first career shutout before being chased by Jerry Sands' RBI double.
RECAP: Bumgarner tosses gem, Giants sweep Dodgers
A little something extra: Giants catcher Buster Posey, who entered the game 9-for-19 (.474) in his past five games but hadn't collected an extra-base hit since doubling on April 30, opened the second inning with a two-bagger to right field of Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley. Posey scored the game's first run when Mike Fontenot, 3-for-24 (.125) over his previous seven games but back at shortstop in the wake of Mark DeRosa's return to the disabled list, spanked a two-out double to left. Both hits were to the opposite field, the product of the same approach that proved successful Wednesday night against lefty Clayton Kershaw.Self-help guru: If the Dodgers looked at Bumgarner's 2-for-14 offensive line for the year and figured he was a typical weak-hitting pitcher, they soon learned that Bumgarner is very much a pitcher who knows how to handle the bat. He smoked a double into the right-center gap to open the bottom of the third inning, moved to third on a bunt single by Andres Torres and scored to give himself a 2-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Freddy Sanchez.No second opinion at second: For one play at least, the Giants were probably glad that instant replay has not yet been expanded. After Jamey Carroll's one-out single in the bottom of the third, Juan Castro hit a comebacker that Bumgarner fielded and threw to shortstop Fontenot at second base in hopes of starting a double play. The throw was on the money, but Fontenot lost his handle on it as soon as it hit his glove. Second-base umpire Jerry Layne ruled that the bobble came on the exchange from glove to bare hand, calling Carroll out at second, but replays were far from conclusive in backing the arbiter's opinion. Nonetheless, instead of having two on and one out, Bumgarner had to deal with a runner on first and two out, and Andre Ethier's popup in foul ground near third base ended the inning.Knee's fine, thanks: Freddy Sanchez, who sat out Tuesday's loss at Colorado to rest his swollen -- and surgically repaired -- left knee after collecting three hits on Monday, banged out two hits Wednesday and picked up his second RBI of the night Thursday with a two-out single to center that scored Miguel Tejada, who had opened the sixth with a single. After going 0-for-4 in the first game of the road trip at Chicago, Sanchez closed the trip by going 7-for-15 with a double and three RBIs. He also turned in a spectacular defensive play in the second inning by sliding across the right-field line while hauling in an overthrow from third base by Tejada on an infield single by Juan Uribe, preventing the former Giants infielder from moving into scoring position.Tejada turning it on: Hitless in both games at Chicago, Tejada trudged to Colorado with a .195 bating average on the year and was the object of widespread scorn among Giants fans. It's going to take more than seven hits in 16 at-bats over four games for the veteran infielder and former American League MVP to win anyone over, but his third multi-hit game of the trip pushed hit batting average to .221, the highest it's been since it was at .224 on April 17.Better than it looked: For the second road trip in a row, the Giants finished up with the .500 mark that every team sets as its goal before leaving home, and a case could be made that if Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez had made good throws on the crucial comebackers on which they erred, San Francisco could have gone 5-1 instead of 3-3. Regardless, any trip that ends with a sweep of your rivals is a decent trip, and for all of their injury and offensive issues this month, the Giants have won 11 of their past 15 games.
Nate the Great: Right fielder Nate Schierholtz turned in what might have been the defensive play of the Giants' season to date, when with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth he left his feet to make a lunging catch on Jamey Carroll's line drive to end the game. The most impressive part of the catch was the degree of difficulty; when Schierholtz went into his dive he was perfectly lined up with the ball, but as he got closer to the ground he had to extend his glove arm in mid air to reach the slicing, sinking shot.
Injury updates: Closer Brian Wilson, who twisted his left ankle while closing out a wild 8-5 victory Wednesday, came in to get the final out for Madison Bumgarner, but not before making things interesting. Outfielder Aaron Rowand, who jammed his back while lunging for first base in Wednesday's game, took batting practice with the team and remains listed as day-to-day.

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.