Giants shoot for sweep of Diamondbacks

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Giants shoot for sweep of Diamondbacks

June 16, 2011

GIANTS (39-29) vs.
ARIZONA (37-32)

ARIZONA (AP) -- Domination in head-to-head matchups is what's keeping the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants ahead of the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks.

San Francisco goes for its sixth straight win and eighth in nine games over Arizona in the finale of their three-game series in the desert Thursday night.

The Giants have a 2 12-game lead over the Diamondbacks (37-32), and a 12-inning, 6-5 loss April 17 at Chase Field is all that stands in the way of San Francisco (39-29) being unbeaten against Arizona this year.

"The last five games against them they have made the plays when it has counted," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We have been in the games and they have responded better than we have."

The Giants haven't been blowing out the Diamondbacks. None of the eight games in the season series has been decided by more than three runs, including San Francisco's 5-2 triumph Wednesday.

REWIND: Bumgarner gets run support, Giants beat D'Backs

Bill Hall - acquired earlier in the week to replace the injured Freddy Sanchez - singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and scored in the ninth on Eli Whiteside's triple. That gave Madison Bumgarner the win after he came in with the fifth-worst run-support average in the majors at 2.65.

"We didn't exactly blow them out but we got enough for him. That's what it's all about," said Pat Burrell, who added a run-scoring triple.

Willie Bloomquist and Chris Young homered for Arizona, which increased its season total to an NL-high 80.

URBAN: Giants' GM finds another scrap-heap gem

A good pitchers' duel could be on tap Thursday when the Giants' Ryan Vogelsong (4-1, 1.81 ERA) faces off against the Diamondbacks' Ian Kennedy (7-2, 3.23).

Vogelsong may not have been happy with his last start, but he also may be the only one associated with the Giants who wasn't.

The right-hander was effective Saturday against Cincinnati despite failing to come away with a decision. He gave up two runs while scattering a season-high eight hits in six innings, and San Francisco won 3-2 on pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz's walk-off single.

"I'm not really happy with the way I threw, but the results turned out all right," Vogelsong told the team's official website.

Vogelsong is 3-1 with a 0.99 ERA over his last seven starts. He's 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in four road games this year, but is looking to win at Chase Field for the first time since Aug. 17, 2004, with Pittsburgh.

Kennedy has fared much better on the road than at home for Arizona in 2011.

In eight starts in Phoenix, the right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA. When he takes the ball away from home, Kennedy is 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA.

Pitching on the road didn't help Saturday in Miami, when he was tagged for five runs and three homers among five hits in eight innings. Despite those numbers, he got credit for a 9-5 win. The five runs were the most allowed by Kennedy since April 13, when he yielded a career-high nine in a loss to St. Louis.

"The offense took care of it and I tried to get innings as much as possible," Kennedy told the Diamondbacks' official website. "I was really, really happy that (Gibson) let me go into the eighth."

Kennedy is 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA in three home outings against San Francisco. He gave up two hits and walked two in eight shutout innings Sept. 6, but the Diamondbacks fell to the Giants 2-0 in 12 innings.

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.

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

Steph Curry keeps game ball for Steve Kerr after he misses Game 3

While head coach Steve Kerr was unable to make Saturday's Game 3 due to an illness, the Warriors went out and took a 3-0 series lead over the Blazers. 

After the game, Steph Curry dedicated the win to Kerr by keeping the game ball for him. 

"Our coach is going through a lot right now physically and he told us this morning this is a situation where we need to rally and go out and win a game for him, but we felt like that," Curry said after the Warriors' 119-113 win. "The way that game had gone on we had to fight and do it for him. 

"The way that he said it was we had to win one for The Gipper, so shout out to coach Kerr." 

Curry led the Warriors with 34 points in Saturday's win.