Giants' push for .500 continues with L.A. in town

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Giants' push for .500 continues with L.A. in town

April 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES (5-4) vs.
GIANTS (4-5)

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

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Last season, the Giants marched to their first World Series title in 56 years with a record that never dipped below .500. They haven't been above .500 in 2011.

Clayton Kershaw and the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to make sure that doesn't happen in the coming days.

The Giants will try to avoid another loss to Kershaw and get their record back to the break-even mark when they face the Dodgers on Monday night in the opener of the second series between the clubs on the young season.
URBAN: 'Revenge' on Dodgers fans a senseless notion

San Francisco (4-5) went on an impressive run to its first World Series championship since 1954, finishing 92-70 to capture the NL West before winning 11 of 15 playoff games.

It may be early, but things aren't going nearly as well this season.

The Giants reached .500 for the first time over the weekend, but dropped back below the mark and saw their three-game winning streak snapped with Sunday's 6-1 loss to St. Louis.

The struggles began at Chavez Ravine.

San Francisco opened the season with a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles (5-4) on March 31, and went on to drop three of four in the series.

Kershaw (1-1, 2.08 ERA) was outstanding in the season opener, outpitching Giants ace Tim Lincecum by striking out nine while allowing four hits in seven scoreless innings. The left-hander was even better in his last start at San Francisco, throwing a four-hitter in a 1-0 victory Sept. 14.

He has a 1.23 ERA in seven games - six starts - against the Giants, but just a 2-1 record to show for it.

Kershaw wasn't as sharp Tuesday, allowing three runs and two homers while fanning eight in six innings of a 3-0 loss at Colorado.

"It was a frustrating night," he said. "They put some good swings on it. I'm not going to discredit them. They hit some balls hard, they hit some balls far."

The Dodgers lost 7-2 at San Diego on Sunday, failing to complete a three-game sweep.

Matt Kemp went 8 for 13 with five stolen bases over the weekend, increasing his season average to .438. The center fielder went 5 for 12 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs in the last series with the Giants.

He's singled in both of his at-bats against scheduled San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 9.00), San Francisco's scheduled starter.

Bumgarner won his only career start against the Dodgers, yielding two runs - one earned - in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory last July 19.

The 21-year-old left-hander struggled to get 2011 off to a positive start Tuesday, surrendering three runs and five hits with three walks before being lifted after three innings of a 3-1 loss at San Diego.

"He's going to be fine," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "The game didn't get out of hand. Give him credit."

Catcher Buster Posey should be back in the lineup after being rested Sunday. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year has at least one hit in seven of eight games.

Posey is 4 for 8 with a homer and two RBIs in San Francisco's last two home matchups with the Dodgers, but is 2 for 12 against Kershaw.

Kings fall flat after emotional win last time out

Kings fall flat after emotional win last time out

SACRAMENTO -- Managing expectations. The Sacramento Kings are neither the team that blasted the Denver Nuggets by a final of 116-100 on Thursday night, nor the group that was flattened 99-85 on Saturday afternoon by the Charlotte Hornets. They are likely somewhere in between.

As Dave Joerger searched for combinations that work together, the Kings struggled with massive bouts of inconsistency Saturday. They are a team of veteran role players and young talent, none of which have ever been a focal point of an NBA offense in their careers.

It’s a work in progress for all involved. Sacramento has 23 games remaining on the schedule and it will take plenty of those games to once again balance out the lineups.

“It’s tough right now, trying to acclimate everyone in and trying to move forward,” point guard Darren Collison said.

Willie Cauley-Stein had a breakout 29-point, 10-rebound game against Denver just two days ago, but things change when a team has time to gameplan. The second-year big scored just two points and grabbed two rebounds in 28 minutes of action against Charlotte as they clogged the middle and took away the pick-and-roll.

“I think teams are definitely going to start doing that now, playing the pick-and-roll where we’re not getting layups and dunks,” Cauley-Stein said. “They’re going to challenge us from the 3-point line. But me personally, I’ve just got to find other ways to make an impact.”

On top of the lack of scoring and rebounding, both Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos struggled to stay with mobile big man Frank Kaminsky on the perimeter. The 23-year-old center doubled his season average, finishing the night with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Kaminsky knocked in 5-of-9 from long range as the Kings’ big chose to take away All-Star Kemba Walker and sagged off the University of Wisconsin product. The rotations were slow, which is to be expected from a team that is just starting to come together.

“Tonight was a situation where you had a team that is a veteran team, a very physical team,” Joerger said in his postgame comments. “They pushed us around the court most of the night with their size and their experience at all positions.”

There were still some positives to take away from the lopsided loss. Skal Labissiere is finding a way to produce since making his way into the rotation. The 20-year-old rookie played 23 minutes off Joerger’s bench, scoring eight points on 4-of-10 shooting while grabbing 13 rebounds.

“Obviously, he’s got a lot of potential,” Anthony Tolliver said. “For him, I just tell him every day, ‘just go out there and play hard, man, everything else will take care of itself.’ As he starts to get more comfortable, that’s when he’s going to start to make a big impact.”

Taken with the 28th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Labissiere has played very sparingly over the first two-thirds of the season, but with very little depth at the power position, he has received an opportunity and taken advantage of it. His length and athleticism were on full display against the Hornets.

Rookie Buddy Hield added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but 13 of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was long out of hand. He struggled to find a rhythm early, like most of the Kings perimeter players.  

Ben McLemore chipped in 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Like Hield all but two of those points came after the intermission and after the Kings had already fallen behind by double-digits.

Tyreke Evans started in his second game back with the Kings, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. The veteran wing played well defensively, but he’s still searching for his place with this team.

Sacramento gets a shot to redeem themselves on Monday when the young and talented Minnesota Timberwolves drop by Golden 1 Center. With the loss they fell a game and half behind the Nuggets in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Heyward surprised Cubs fans didn’t boo A’s OF Davis more

Heyward surprised Cubs fans didn’t boo A’s OF Davis more

MESA, Ariz. – The Cactus League crowds are different than the ones packed into Wrigley Field. It was only a meaningless split-squad game on a Saturday afternoon in the Arizona sunshine. Finally winning the World Series must have somewhat dulled the edge.

But Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward still thought Rajai Davis would hear it from the sellout crowd of 14,929 at Sloan Park, the what-could-have-been anxiety bubbling up when seeing the Oakland A's leadoff guy who nearly changed the course of baseball history.

"I was surprised he didn't get booed more, but that's just how our fans are," Heyward said. "They're fun like that. They have fun with the game. They acknowledge it. That's pretty cool for Cubs fans to boo you. If anybody boos you from last year, that's kind of an honor, I would say. To be on that side of things, it means you did something great."

As Alfonso Soriano liked to say, they don't boo nobodies. With one big swing, Davis almost unleashed a miserable winter for the Cubs and ended the Cleveland Indians' 68-year drought.

Manager Joe Maddon kept pushing closer Aroldis Chapman, who fired 97 pitches in Games 5, 6, and 7 combined. Davis timed seven straight fastballs in the eighth inning – the last one at 97.1 mph – and drove a Game 7-tying two-run homer just inside the foul pole and onto the left-field patio. In a now-famous rain-delay speech, Heyward gathered his teammates in a Progressive Field weight room as the Cubs regained their composure.

"They booed him, but only the first at-bat," Heyward said. "The second at-bat and the third, I was like: ‘Eh, they kind of just let him off the hook.' They let him be."

READ MORE AT CSNChicago.com