Killion: Weekend wrap -- Giant wake-up call

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Killion: Weekend wrap -- Giant wake-up call

Aug. 1, 2011

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Ann Killion
CSNBayArea.com

There are rumblings of panic in the Giants kingdom. A sweep in Cincinnati. A big-name acquisition that hasnt started hitting yet. A trade deadline come and gone without help at catcher.In some quarters, the benefit of the doubt that Brian Sabean earned by winning the World Series has already expired.

But its not quite time to panic. The Giants have been swept before. The last time they were swept on the road -- in June against Oakland -- they were only a few miles from home, werent operating in suffocating heat and humidity and didnt have Barry Zito start.In other words, they had fewer excuses than they did over the past weekend when they lost all three to Cincinnati.RECAP: Reds clobber Zito, sweep Giants with 9-0 win
And after their last sweep they went 7-1.Still, getting swept isnt a great way to start August. Not a good launch into a critical series against Arizona, which is breathing down the Giants neck just 3.5 games back. Not an encouraging way to begin a home stand against three playoff contenders.RELATED: MLB standings
But the Cincinnati sweep could have some benefits. Like:-- Forcing Zito out of the rotation for good. All the rest of the Giants games are going to be critical. Theres no way -- barring injury or illness to another starter --that the Giants can hand the ball to Zito.-- Reminding everyone that nothing has been won yet. When the Giants traded for Carlos Beltran last week, the stories all spun ahead to how Beltran could help the Giants in the playoffs. Uh, not there yet folks.-- Refocus the AT&T Park crowd. Not that the fans havent been on their game all season. But the Giants play 22 of their next 35 games at home. Time to make that home field advantage count.-- Spur Brian Sabean to try to make more waiver-wire deals like he did last season.There are two more months left for panic. Remember people, you have to pace yourselves.The As offense continues to roll. When I asked Conor Jackson if it was frustrating that it was too little, too late, he said no.RECAP: A's take series from Twins with 7-3 victory
Theres two months of baseball left, he said. Thats a lot of baseball.Jackson cited the Colorado Rockies, who were seven games back and in fourth place on Sept 10 in 2007. Yet the Rockies made the playoffs and knocked Jacksons Arizona Diamondbacks team out of the NLCS before losing in the World Series.I think this is what they envisioned when they put the team together, Jackson said. Of course, they didnt want it to happen after the All-Star game.Billy Beane didnt hear any deals that enticed him. So, aside from trading reliever Brad Ziegler to Arizona, he kept the As together to see if they can make a Rockies-like run. The As are currently 11.5 back but playing the best ball of the season.I think we just have confidence, Jackson said. Were feeding off each other. ..Its all confidence. Its a mental game.The Raiders officially said goodbye to Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the shining lights of the Bay Area sports scene in recent years. Asomugha never won in the Bay Area, either with Cal or with the Raiders. But he was a great player and a stellar person off the field: professional, articulate, honest and involved in the community.GUTIERREZ: Seed for Nnamdi's exit planted long ago
The Raiders made a nice pickup by signing Trent Edwards over the weekend. The former Stanford quarterback had some solid years in Buffalo and is still relatively young.The 49ers have a free agency plan. Thats what Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh said over the weekend.They didnt say what the plan is, because it may be top secret.KILLION: Dreary outlook for Harbaugh, 49ers
We are going to be patient, Baalke said. We have been patient. We do have a plan. Were executing the plan.At least the 49ers spent a lot of time with the stencil machine over the lockout period. Theyve stenciled sayings for the players on the inside of doors and hung banners with sayings like You are getting better or you are getting worse. You never stay the same.The 49ers fans are hoping for option A of those three possibilities.The big sports news that got pushed aside in the midst of the baseball trade deadline and the opening of training camp: Juergen Klinsmann has taken over as coach of the U.S. mens national soccer team.Local angles? Klinsmanns wife Debbie is from San Jose. Also, U.S. Soccer needs a bigger fix than just a new coach, which makes the team a lot like the 49ers.

Bullpen implodes after Cain goes five solid, Giants crushed by Padres

Bullpen implodes after Cain goes five solid, Giants crushed by Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wil Myers hit a three-run homer to cap San Diego's eight-run sixth inning and the Padres rallied to beat the San Francisco Giants 12-4 on Saturday night.

Myers also singled off Chris Stratton (1-0) to start the big inning and had three hits for the game. San Diego scored 11 runs against the Giants' bullpen following five effective innings from starter Matt Cain.

Allen Cordoba added a three-run homer off Neil Ramirez in the seventh.

The Padres combined for six hits and two walks off Stratton and Ramirez in the sixth. It took the duo 46 pitches to end the inning.

Jhoulys Chacin (3-3) struck out six and gave up three runs, five hits and two walks in five innings.

Triggs rebounds as A's halt 10-game losing streak to Astros

Triggs rebounds as A's halt 10-game losing streak to Astros

HOUSTON — Andrew Triggs keeps checking off all the right boxes in his first season as a major league starting pitcher.

Coming into the year, manager Bob Melvin said the right-hander’s biggest challenge would be retiring lefty hitters. He’s done that splendidly.

On Saturday, the A’s needed to see if Triggs could bounce back after his first rough outing of 2017. He responded with the best of his 11 career starts, holding a potent Astros lineup off the scoreboard for seven innings as the A’s registered a 2-1 victory that snapped their five-game losing streak.

The effective cutter that eluded Triggs when he lost to the Mariners last Sunday was back. Houston’s hitters waved helplessly at the pitch and began their walk back to the dugout all in the same motion, as Triggs rang up a career-high nine strikeouts. His seven innings also were a career high for the 28-year-old.

“We’re not really swinging the bats right now,” Melvin said. “We score two runs and we’re facing a lineup that you expect to score a bunch of runs. So to pitch as well as he did and go through the lineup three times, give us seven innings of work, is pretty good.

“He had the one off-outing, and every outing (besides that) has been pretty spotless.”

Triggs, whose 1.84 ERA ranks seventh in the American League, doesn’t blow people away with his fastball. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot that suggests it might be easy for left-handed hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. Last season, the batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were all roughly 40 to 50 points higher for lefties than for righties off Triggs.

All he’s done coming out of the gate this season is hold lefties to an .087 batting average (4-for-46). Another revealing stat: Opposing cleanup hitters are 0-for-14 off him.

Triggs credited catchers Stephen Vogt, Josh Phegley and, when he’s been up with the big club, Bruce Maxwell for their expertise in calling pitches against lefties.

“They’ve done such a good job keeping the sequences unpredictable,” he said. “You command pitches, you’re gonna get guys out. I know the stereotype is when you throw from the angle that I do, you’re gonna struggle with lefties. I’ve been aware, at least of that profile, for a while. I’ve worked on it quite a bit.”

Triggs had his entire repertoire working Saturday, according to Vogt.

“He was keeping them off-balance. Even when it seemed they were starting to sit on his slider, he starts sneaking some heaters by them. He was outstanding.”

But he had help. First baseman Yonder Alonso made a terrific leaping grab of Josh Reddick’s liner in the fifth that might have gone for extra bases. An inning before that, Jaff Decker made an on-the-money throw to third from deep right field to nail Carlos Beltran tagging up on a fly ball.

“He’s got a good arm so don’t sleep on him at all,” Triggs said.

Given how their month has gone, it’s no surprise the A’s got both their runs on homers. They’ve gone deep 31 times in April, their most homers in the month since they clubbed 34 in 2006. Lowrie, who’s spent two stints with the Astros and owns an offseason home in Houston, went deep to right to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Khris Davis mashed his 10th homer in the eighth for what wound up being an important insurance run when Jose Altuve followed with a homer off Sean Doolittle.

Davis’ teammates by now are accustomed to seeing the left fielder flaunt his opposite-field power. He’s hit three homers this series, all to straightaway right or right-center.

Said Lowrie: “I think at this point it’s fair to call it special.”