Giants salvage series with 8-1 win vs. D'Backs

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Giants salvage series with 8-1 win vs. D'Backs

Aug. 3, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Orlando Cabrera had become a bit concerned as San Francisco's skid hit five games while its offense sputtered.Then, Cabrera started clicking with his new club and, suddenly, so did the rest of the Giants. And Ryan Vogelsong? He was his typical reliable self on the mound when it mattered.Vogelsong won his career-best sixth straight decision, Cabrera hit a two-run double and drove in three runs, and the Giants remained atop the NL West with an 8-1 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
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"Man, finally. I was starting to worry," said Cabrera, who joined his ninth team since 2004 in a trade from Cleveland last week. "I'd like to believe if you win the World Series you have to hit at some point. It's basically the same team."Vogelsong (9-1), the bright spot in a standout rotation this year, helped the Giants snap a five-game losing streak in which they were outscored 31-8, including a 9-0 loss Sunday at Cincinnati, and had their division lead trimmed by four games in as many days.Carlos Beltran tripled among his three hits, scored twice and drove in a run in his best game since joining the Giants in a trade from the New York Mets last Thursday. San Francisco scored its most runs in a home game so far in 2011.
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Beltran and Pablo Sandoval each hit RBI singles in a four-run third against Jason Marquis (8-6), who lost his Arizona debut four days after being acquired in a trade with Washington. The Giants scored four more runs in the fifth.
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"We had two big innings. That's great for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's been a while since we've had innings like that. ... This game was probably our biggest game to date of the season, with the losing streak. We had to stop the bleeding."Marquis tossed a five-hit shutout of San Francisco on April 29, but this was Vogelsong's day all the way.The right-hander allowed one run on five hits, struck out seven and walked three in six innings to lower his NL-best ERA to 2.19. He also owns the lowest home ERA in the majors (1.30) and his run of 10 straight starts at AT&T Park giving up two or fewer runs is the longest such stretch by a Giants starter since Scott Garrelts did it in 12 consecutive outings from June 11, 1986, to July 16, 1989.Vogelsong has been the Giants' most reliable starter and hasn't lost since May 26 against Florida. He extended his career high for victories Wednesday with a 108-pitch performance in which he withstood deep counts for much of the afternoon. Not bad for a guy who just keeps improving after showing up at spring training as a non-roster invitee, getting promoted in mid-April, then becoming an improbable All-Star at age 33."I think it's a little too early to be pushing the panic button," Vogelsong said. "Obviously I knew we'd lost five in a row and we needed to win."After Zach Duke's seventh-inning RBI single got Arizona on the board and chased Vogelsong, Guillermo Mota entered and struck out the side in both the seventh and eighth for a career high-tying six Ks.Aubrey Huff's single in the fifth was the fourth straight hit to start the inning off Marquis, who left after giving up 10 hits and a season-high seven earned runs. Cody Ross had a two-run double moments later to spoil Brad Ziegler's first outing with Arizona since a trade from Oakland on Sunday.Bochy shook up his lineup in an effort to get things going, and it worked wonders.Andres Torres returned to the leadoff spot and center field. Beltran, slated to be the regular No. 3 hitter, batted cleanup and Sandoval moved up a spot to third. Ross drew two walks and drove in three runs in the No. 7 hole."We have good hitters in our lineup," Beltran said. "Sometimes we get caught up in trying to do too much. It happens to every team."The Giants were outscored 11-3 in first two games of the series as Arizona moved into a tie for first in the West heading into the finale, but they denied the D-backs the chance to move into sole possession of first place for the first time since a four-day stretch atop the standings that ended June 25."In the grand scheme of things, we got a lot accomplished on the road trip," D-backs center fielder Chris Young said. "We played good baseball and got a lot closer in the race. We just need to keep pushing forward from there."San Francisco's losing streak matched its longest this season. Giants starters were 0-4 with a 6.51 ERA during the skid, making Vogelsong's outing all the more important.Sandoval put the Giants - who had gone 12 straight games without scoring more than four runs - ahead in the third with an RBI single and Beltran followed with one of his own during as sequence of four straight base hits and an RBI groundout by Cabrera off Marquis.D-backs slugger Justin Upton struck out three times and had his 14-game hitting streak snapped.Notes: Mota last struck out six in a game during a three-inning outing on May 29, 2003, with the Dodgers. ... The Giants are 12-5 on Wednesdays. ... San Francisco LHP Madison Bumgarner tries to bounce back Thursday night against the Phillies and ace Cliff Lee after lasting just four innings his last time out, allowing five earned runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. It will be his first regular-season matchup with Philadelphia after starting Game 4 of the NL championship series vs. the Phillies and also making a relief outing in Game 6. ... The Diamondbacks head home for a 10-game stay at Chase Field but get Thursday off before opening a weekend series with the Dodgers. LHP Joe Saunders starts Friday night for his second straight start vs. L.A. after beating the Dodgers on July 31. He will try for his third straight win overall. Saunders has had quality starts in eight of his last nine outings, going 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA.

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.