Nolasco, Marlins to test Giants' home dominance

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Nolasco, Marlins to test Giants' home dominance

May 23, 2011
FLORIDA (26-19) vs.GIANTS (27-19)Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
(AP) -- San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows his lineup has to continue to improve, but right now, he can't complain about how it's performing in the clutch.Looking to match a season high with their sixth straight victory, the NL West-leading Giants will try to extend their longest home winning streak in seven seasons to 10 on Tuesday night when they face the Florida Marlins.San Francisco (27-19) failed to score more than four runs through nine innings for the 16th time in 17 games Sunday, but the defending World Series champions beat Oakland 5-4 in 11 innings to win their fifth in a row."Right now we're starting to swing the bats better, but until we get this offense clicking, it's going to be vital for us to have the pitchers throwing the ball the way they are," Bochy told the team's official website.While their starters have strung together 15 straight games without giving up more than three earned runs, the Giants also have come through at the plate when it matters most. They improved to 11-0 at home in one-run games Sunday when Emmanuel Burriss singled home Darren Ford for the deciding run - the team's seventh walkoff win.San Francisco has won 14 of 18 overall, including a nine-game home winning streak which is its longest since a 9-0 stretch May 25-June 17, 2004.Giving the ball to Matt Cain (3-2, 3.28 ERA) could help San Francisco inch closer to its longest undefeated stretch at its 11-year-old waterfront ballpark, an 11-game run July 7-25, 2003. He's 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last six starts there - three this season and three in last year's playoffs.The right-hander did not earn a decision Wednesday, but he struck out a season-high seven and pitched into the eighth inning for a second consecutive start in an 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.Cain has allowed more than three runs just once in nine starts this year and has never done so in seven outings versus Florida, going 3-0 with a 2.98 ERA.The Marlins (26-19) begin a nine-game trip with right-hander Ricky Nolasco (3-0, 3.32) looking to continue his dominance in San Francisco. The Southern California native is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two starts at AT&T Park and threw the only shutout of his career there Aug. 19, 2008."I've just been able to go there and make pitches," he told the Marlins' official website. "Obviously, they are a good team built around their pitching. They have been playing good as of late, so I'm just going out and try to do the same thing and make pitches."If Nolasco struggles, manager Edwin Rodriguez can turn to a bullpen which is among the league's best with a 2.64 ERA. Florida's relievers threw six shutout innings and struck out a season-best eight in Sunday's 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay.Marlins pitching has held Buster Posey to three hits in 15 at-bats, all during the teams' last series - a four-game split July 26-29 in San Francisco. The reigning NL rookie of the year, who is 1 for 3 against Nolasco, enters this three-game set on an 11-game hitting streak during which he's batting .390.Florida's Logan Morrison will try to reach base safely for the 25th straight game after drawing a two-out, ninth-inning walk Sunday. In his major league debut, Morrison singled off Cain for his first big-league hit in a 6-4 loss July 27.Cain lasted seven innings in that game, surrendering three runs while not earning a decision.

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.