Lincecum puts home dominance vs. L.A. on the line

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Lincecum puts home dominance vs. L.A. on the line

April 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES (6-4) vs.
GIANTS (4-6)

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

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants couldn't produce any offense to support Tim Lincecum's opening day start against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It could be a similar situation for the San Francisco ace Tuesday night against the Dodgers when he's opposed by Chad Billingsley.

Runs figure to be at a premium as the defending World Series champions continue their three-game series against visiting Los Angeles, which has won four of the first five meetings.

The Dodgers won 6-1 on Monday behind 6 2-3 scoreless innings from Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier's two RBIs. Los Angeles (6-4) had 11 hits to reach double figures for the fourth time in five games.

REWIND: Giants can't solve Kershaw in loss to Dodgers

San Francisco, meanwhile, was held to one run for the fourth time this year while Pat Burrell recorded the team's ninth error. Only Houston has a lower fielding percentage in the NL.

"We know we need to tighten up this defense," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've let it get away from us and it's hurt us."

The Giants (4-6) hope to start turning things around when they send Lincecum (1-1, 0.64 ERA) to the mound. He gave up one unearned run and five hits in seven innings of a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on March 31.

RELATED: Tim Lincecum career stats

Lincecum has never lost at home to Los Angeles, going 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA.

The right-hander is coming off a dominant start at San Diego on Wednesday. He struck out 13 in seven innings of an 8-4 win, giving up one run and three hits.

"He's a special talent, this kid, and he showed it again today," Bochy said of the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Matt Kemp, who went 1 for 2 with an RBI and two walks Monday to raise his average to .441, is just 3 for 21 with nine strikeouts lifetime against Lincecum.
NEWS: MLB stats leaders

Lincecum may need to be just as good again when he matches up with Billingsley (1-1, 8.00), who, despite his lofty ERA, pitched well against the Giants on April 1. He gave up three runs in six innings of a 4-3 victory to improve to 3-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his last six starts against San Francisco.

Billingsley, 7-3 with a 2.73 ERA in his career against the Giants, is looking to bounce back after a poor outing Wednesday. The right-hander gave up five runs and six hits in three innings of a 7-5 loss to Colorado.

"He seemed to kind of struggle with his stuff today, throwing the ball where he wanted to," manager Don Mattingly told the Dodgers' official website. "That was kind of frustrating."
RELATED: L.A. Dodgers-Giants stat pack

Mattingly's team will continue this series without shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is headed for the disabled list after breaking his left thumb sliding into third for a fifth-inning stolen base. He is hitting .192 with two RBIs in seven games this season.

NOTES
Los Angeles took three of four from San Francisco at Dodger Stadium in the two clubs' first series of the season. ... The Giants dropped a 6-1 decision to the Cardinals on Sunday, snapping their 3-game winning streak in the process. San Francisco has won five of the last six meetings between these two squads at AT&T Park. ... Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his first two starts of 2011 and including a victory at AT&T Park last September 14, is 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his last five outings overall. ... Madison Bumgarner lasted just three innings and gave up three earned runs (taking the loss) in his first start of 2011 last Tuesday in San Diego. Bumgarner has faced the Dodgers twice in his career (1 start) and is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in those games. ... As a team, San Francisco's starting pitchers have a 2.77 ERA in 2011 -- best of any team in the NL and third best in the majors. ... Los Angeles is 4-0 when leading after six innings in 2011 and 0-4 when trailing entering the seventh frame this season.

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

Facial fractures for Couture; Thornton undergoes surgery

SAN JOSE – Just in case there was any question as to the grisly nature of Logan Couture’s mouth injury, the Sharks forward shared a picture on his personal Instagram account on Monday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, proceed with caution.

The photo was taken the night of his injury on March 25 in Nashville, showing several top teeth missing in a mouth that can accurately be described as a bloody mess, after he was hit with a defected puck while standing in front of the net in a game against the Predators.

Couture revealed on Tuesday in a conference call that there was more to his injury that just damaged teeth. He also has some facial fractures, including one above his upper lip that extends to his nasal area, and another that is under the bottom row of his teeth.

The one that’s higher in his face is still painful. 

“Still struggle to eat and sleep. … It’s not a comfortable state to be in,” said Couture, who missed the final seven games of the regular season before returning for the six-game first round series loss to Edmonton.

As for the next step, Couture has yet to sit down with his dentist, although further work is on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some implants to get the teeth fixed,” he said. “Hopefully get it done in the next few weeks, and then I’ll head back to Canada.”

Couture doesn’t yet know how many teeth need to be replaced.

“All depends on how the teeth respond,” he said.

* * *

Joe Thornton had successful surgery on Monday afternoon, NBC Sports California has learned.

According to a source, the damage to Thornton’s MCL was more significant than his ACL. The Sharks are expected to provide an official update on Thornton later on Tuesday.

Thornton played four playoff games against Edmonton despite damaged knee ligaments, head coach Pete DeBoer revealed on Monday, when he said Thornton was dealing with a “torn MCL and ACL” after getting hurt in Vancouver on April 2.

Power play at the center of Sharks' downfall in 2016-17

Power play at the center of Sharks' downfall in 2016-17

SAN JOSE – There was an NHL coaching casualty on Monday on a team that flamed out in the first round.

No, it wasn’t in San Jose. It was in Chicago, as the Blackhawks fired assistant coach Mike Kitchen, who was in charge of their penalty kill. Chicago, swept by Nashville despite finishing atop the Western Conference, finished 24th on the PK in the regular season.

When it comes to the Sharks’ coaching staff, there’s no doubt that head coach Pete DeBoer will return, but it’s fair to wonder if assistant coach Steve Spott is feeling a little heat right now. The Sharks’ power play, a primary focus of Spott’s, finished just 25th in the NHL this season (16.7 percent) after it was third in the league in 2015-16 (22.5 percent).

When asked if the full Sharks’ coaching staff would return next season, general manager Doug Wilson didn’t offer anything definitive.

“I haven’t sat down with them yet. I think they did an outstanding job,” Wilson said. “You go through the last 12 months with a compressed schedule, very few practices, integrating players. I’m very pleased with their performance.

“I think there are things that they want to do better. We all have to take a look back and be honest, and say since we’re not playing right now, what can we do better? I think that transparency and honesty is a really good part of this group. We’ll do that in the next week.”

And what was Wilson’s perspective of the power play?

“It’s got to be better. [The coaches] will tell you. …  It’s not [always] the percentage or the number, it’s when you score goals. We certainly have the talent, and historically we’ve done very well,” Wilson said.

There was no part of the Sharks’ game during the regular season and in the playoffs that was more baffling and frustrating than it’s performance with a man advantage. Last season’s success seemed to bleed into October as the Sharks were running at a 24.1 percent rate through the first month of the 2016-17 season, but after November 1 and through the end of the season, the power play was a miserable 15.7 percent (34-for-217).

In the playoffs the Sharks were a more respectable 5-for-28, but even DeBoer called that misleading as four of those came in the 7-0 blowout in Game 4. They were 1-for-18 the rest of the series.

DeBoer, as the head coach, took responsibility for that part of the Sharks’ game when asked how much the miserable power play grinded on Spott.

“It grinds on all of us,” he said. “This isn’t about Steve. The power play is not about Steve. The power play is about our whole staff. We sit on all those situations as a group, and I’m the ultimate guy responsible for all those things. 

“I think it ground on all of us. It didn’t give us momentum, it didn’t create momentum even when it wasn’t scoring. That’s what you want your power play to do, is at least give you some momentum that you’re feeling good coming out of it. We didn’t get that, so that’s something that’s right at the top of our list.”

One baffling aspect of the power play is that the coaching staff hardly ever tried anything different with its units unless it was forced into it due to injury. Patrick Marleau was bumped from the top unit for a brief stretch in the middle of the season, but it didn’t last very long.

The second unit generated just seven goals in the 82-game season, and none after Feb. 2 other than rookie Danny O’Regan’s score in the final game when several Sharks regulars were resting.

One argument regarding the top unit is that it simply became too predictable. Joe Thornton could be counted on to pass, Brent Burns was going to shoot any chance he got, and Joe Pavelski would be hovering somewhere around the slot looking for a deflection.

Pavelski said: “There were times where maybe we rushed it, forced a few things. Definitely all year it could have been a little better, a little more of our identity and what it has been in the past. So, that’s on us as players.”

DeBoer said: “I think we got a little stagnant. I don’t think we had as much motion as we usually have and as much movement, and that comes with some confidence. You lose confidence, you tend to stand still. That’s something that we’ve got to get back.”