Giants poised to prey upon fading Pirates

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Giants poised to prey upon fading Pirates

August 8, 2011

PITTSBURGH (54-59) vs.
GIANTS (63-52)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates were division leaders. Both teams have been playing poorly, but the Giants have managed to remain in first place and the Pirates are nowhere near it.

The Giants try to boost their record on a sagging homestand as they look to hand the Pirates an 11th consecutive loss Monday night.

While San Francisco (63-52) has a half-game lead over Arizona atop the NL West despite losing eight of 10, Pittsburgh - the Central leader as recently as July 26 - has dropped 10 straight to fall 10 games behind division-leading Milwaukee.

"It's obviously not easy right now," second baseman Neil Walker said. "... Nobody likes the feeling that we have right now."

The Pirates (54-59) may have a tough time halting their skid Monday, considering they have lost seven of eight in San Francisco and will be facing Ryan Vogelsong - second in the NL in ERA.

The Giants have gone 2-5 on their 10-game homestand but avoided a four-game sweep to Philadelphia with Sunday's 3-1 win over the NL East leaders.

REWIND: Lincecum, Giants avoid sweep; hold off Phils

"With the funk we've been in, you hope this is something to build on," winning pitcher Tim Lincecum said. "We don't want to be content just winning one here and there."

San Francisco expects Carlos Beltran to be in the lineup even though he left in the seventh inning Sunday with pain in the top of his right hand on a swinging strikeout. Beltran, batting .268 with two RBIs in 10 games since being acquired from the New York Mets, has hit .395 with 11 RBIs in his last 10 versus Pittsburgh.

Fellow midseason acquisition Jeff Keppinger is 6 for 8 in his last two games and will look to stay hot to back Vogelsong (9-1, 2.19 ERA), who will try to beat his former team for the second time in as many tries.

Pitching at Pittsburgh on April 28 in his first start since 2004, Vogelsong gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings and matched a career high with eight strikeouts in a 5-2 win for his first victory in the majors since Sept. 14, 2005.

Vogelsong was 10-19 with a 6.00 ERA from 2001-06 with Pittsburgh before playing in the minors and in Japan.

The right-hander won for the third time in four games after holding Arizona to a run and five hits in six innings of an 8-1 win Wednesday.

Walker was 3 for 3 against Vogelsong in April and enters this contest with nine multihit efforts in his last 13 games.

His performance has made little difference to a Pittsburgh team mired in its longest losing streak since a 12-game slide June 6-18, 2010.

The Pirates begin a six-game road trip after an 0-7 homestand - their worst in 125 years - capped by Sunday's 7-3 loss to San Diego.

Poor pitching has been a key to the Pirates' losing streak. Starters have posted an 8.39 ERA while failing to complete six innings in five games.

Charlie Morton (8-6, 3.80) got past the sixth for the first time in nine starts Wednesday, lasting seven innings in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Cubs, and he goes back to the mound Monday.

He's 5-2 with a 3.76 ERA in nine road starts this year, including 5-0 when allowing four runs or less. The right-hander is looking for his first win in four starts overall.

Morton didn't get a decision in a 3-2 home loss to the Giants on April 26, giving up one run in six innings during a series in which Pittsburgh lost two of three games. He's 1-3 with a 3.48 ERA in five career starts against San Francisco.

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With one week to go until the A’s break camp and head north, there are still some roster issues to be cleared up.

The big-picture question regarding this team, obviously, is where it might be building a future ballpark.

With all this in mind, we try to provide some clarity on questions submitted via Twitter:

From @Cjkittrell: If the Raiders move to Vegas, does the Coliseum site jump to the top of the list of possible ballpark sites by default?

That’s not necessarily the case. You have to remember what the A’s crave more than anything in a ballpark location: A thriving surrounding area — with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. — that will make the ballpark an attraction beyond the baseball game itself. Team president Dave Kaval has talked of wanting a “ballpark village” around a new venue. A downside of the Coliseum is that there is nothing around the area right now that would attract fans besides the baseball. Other sites, including Howard Terminal, appear to have more potential as far as surrounding attractions.

This doesn’t count out the Coliseum as an option. As Kaval has said, it’s the only site of four being considered that the A’s know is truly viable. There’s comfort in that. And the BART station, freeway access and available parking are big plusses. But something else I’ll mention in regard to the Raiders: Even if they announce a move to Las Vegas, they have lease agreements that would keep them playing football at the Coliseum at least through the 2018 season while their Vegas stadium is under construction. With the Raiders likely to be on the property for that period, it could complicate the A’s own hypothetical construction plans for the Coliseum site.

From @44BWells: With the emergence of Franklin Barrreto and the contract of Jed Lowrie, what's Joey Wendle's present and future?

They appear murky, don’t they? First and foremost, Wendle has to recover from a sore right shoulder that’s kept him out of exhibitions for a while. But the acquisition of utility man Adam Rosales meant Wendle probably wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training anyway. He’s got a fan in manager Bob Melvin, who was impressed with Wendle defensively last September. It was Wendle’s glove that was the question mark when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians. Barreto has the star-caliber upside and the hype. Once the A’s deem him ready, Lowrie becomes a trade possibility. But Wendle’s advantage is that, to a degree, he’s already proven himself in the majors. He’s a known quantity at this level. If a second baseman is needed early in the season, Wendle could get a call-up before Barreto if Barreto gets off to a slow start.

As for Wendle’s future beyond 2017, it would serve him well to be able to handle as many positions as possible. He realizes this. That’s why he volunteered to play winter ball in Mexico this past offseason, where he played lots of shortstop. His role moving forward could be as more of a utility guy, because I see Barreto growing roots at second base.

@ONChristy: Do the A's have the pieces, both in the majors and minors, to make a run in 2018-2020?

Well, it’s definitely tough to look down the road and forecast a three-year block. Here’s a short answer for you: They better! All of the trades of the past couple seasons have been made with an eye toward stockpiling young talent — especially on the pitching side. Contending this year will be a tall order. But by the end of this season, I’d expect Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman to have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues. There’s a strong chance you’ll also see young pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Daniel Gossett up. There’s a large core of young players who are on the cusp of being major league ready.

Add to that some core veterans such as Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman Marcus Semien and (if he’s not traded) Sonny Gray— who will all be under team control through 2019 at least — and the A’s have a solid foundation for contending in that timeframe you mention. But let’s face it, there’s a lot that can and usually does happen over any three-year span that completely changes what we think we know going in.

 

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.