Giants Insider notes: Cain deals with pain


Giants Insider notes: Cain deals with pain

May 12, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' intense 3-2 victory over the visiting Diamondbacks on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.Cain deals with pain: Giants right-hander Matt Cain did plenty with his arm to help close out the 6-0 homestand, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out seven over 7 23 innings to pick up his first win since April 20 and extend San Francisco's season-best wining streak to six games in front of the team's 15th sellout crowd in 15 home games this year. What he did with his bat in the seventh inning was nearly as impressive, dropping down a gorgeous sacrifice bunt almost immediately after taking a fastball from Arizona starter Daniel Hudson off his left handoff what was ruled a foul ball. It set up the second run of the game during a two-run insurance inning that proved huge.
RECAP: Cain masterful, Giants sweep again
Giving it up: Cain took a little good-natured ribbing for not acknowledging the standing ovation he received while walking off the mound after his superlative start at AT&T during last year's World Series, but his reasoning was in keeping with his team-first attitude. There were runners on base at the time, he explained, so tipping his cap wouldn't have felt quite right. "I feel kind of bad about it now, though," he said during spring training. He got two standing-O's on Thursday, the first after his bunt and the second while walking to the dugout after being removed from the game with two out in the bottom of the eighth, and although there were runners at the corner when he left the game, Cain did, in fact, doff his cap right before hitting the dugout steps. Don't expect to see it again, though -- both runners ended up scoring to quickly drain the park of the overflowing good vibes.Making his mark: Eli Whiteside, in his seventh start of the season behind the plate, has great respect among the team's pitchers for his game-calling ability, and he and Cain appeared to be on the same page all day. Far less heralded for his offensive prowess, Whiteside nevertheless seems to have a knack for impacting the few games in which he participates. His contributions Thursday included a pair of doubles, the second of which opened the bottom of the seventh to ignite the rally that iced the affair.Chink in the armor: While it wasn't charged with a run, extending its streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 22 13 innings over the past nine games, the Giants bullpen wasn't as lights-out as it's been of late. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt took over for Cain and allowed an inherited runner to score on an infield single by the only batter he faced, and Ramon Ramirez took over for Affeldt and allowed another inherited runner to score on a single to left by the first batter he faced. With closer Brian Wilson unavailable after working in all five of the Giants' previous games, Sergio Romo started the top of the ninth but gave up a single to the only batter he faced and Javier Lopez gave up a single to the second batter he faced to put runners at the corners with one out before striking out the next two Snakes to lock down his first save of the season.DeRosa's 'D': Given his second start at third base in three games since coming off the disabled list, Mark DeRosa showed off the athleticism that made him a two-sport star at Penn of the Ivy League -- he was the football team's starting quarterback -- with one of the best defensive plays of game. With one out in the second inning, DeRosa charged a bunt off the bat of Ryan Roberts, made a bare-handed pickup and threw an off-balance dart across his body, with all of his momentum heading toward home plate, to nail Roberts by a half-step at first base.Sudden impact: DeRosa's defensive gem was trumped an inning later when right fielder Nate Schierholtz, who in the bottom of the second put the Giants on the scoreboard with an RBI single that snapped him out of a 1-for-10 homestead slide, expertly played Gerardo Parra's drive to the base of the wall in right-center by making a clean pickup and wheeling to fire a one-hop strike to second base that required virtually no movement of shortstop Miguel Tejada's glove and beat Parra to the bag by mere inches. Tejada likely bought those inches when he lulled Parra into cruise control by nonchalantly loitering at the bag as if Schierholtz had no shot. Bochy on Buster: While hanging out in an otherwise deserted dugout about 40 minutes before Thursday's first pitch, Giants manager Bruce Bochy chuckled when I asked if he ever suffered a concussion during his career as a big-league catcher; the topic is timely because Buster Posey took a couple of shots to the mask Wednesday, left the game for precautionary reasons and, despite having passed concussion "tests" administered by the Giants' medical staff, was held out of Thursday's starting lineup. Bochy, who noted that Posey likely would have gotten the day off even without the skull scare, was never diagnosed with a concussion as a player and theorized that (a) it might take a wrecking ball to do any real damage to his famously huge melon, and (b) "They probably wouldn't have been able to tell anything was different because I was never all that quick on the uptake to begin with."

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.