Robinson Cano in one of his worst slumps ever

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Robinson Cano in one of his worst slumps ever

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Hitless at the plate, Robinson Cano isn't getting a break with the umpires, either.The slumping All-Star second baseman could only plead his case to no avail Sunday after a missed call by an umpire helped the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 3-0.And just like that, the Tigers once again tagged the Yankees, taking a 2-0 lead in the AL championship series."We've just got to forget about these two games," Cano said.And the task doesn't figure to get easier in Game 3 at Detroit on Tuesday, when the Yankees face AL MVP Justin Verlander."Maybe a little change of scenery might be good," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "It's definitely not an ideal situation. You'd rather be up 2-0 and facing a Triple-A pitcher. That would be nice."An MVP-caliber player for much of the summer, Cano has been a fall flop -- all the more stunning given that he finished the regular season with 24 hits in his final 39 at-bats.And it's not just him. Four-hit by Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke in Game 2, the Yankees are batting .205 in the playoffs (53 for 258), including 10 for 50 with runners in scoring position."We've been through stretches like this all year," said Rodriguez, hitting .130 (3 for 23) with no RBIs. "It's been a very volatile stock market for us this year."Cano is hitless in 26 straight at-bats, a record for a single postseason, and 2 for 32 overall (.063)."It is odd," manager Joe Girardi said. "You know this is a really, really good hitter that is struggling right now, and he's not getting a lot of pitches to hit."Cano's failure to run hard out of the batter's box has become glaring. And he let the ball pop out of his hand in the seventh inning, allowing Detroit's first run to score on Delmon Young's grounder instead of trying for an inning-ending double play."He is capable of making it. He knows that he has to get rid of it quickly," Girardi said. "I am not sure if he gets rid of it quickly he is safe. He knows it's going to be a bang-bang, so he has to hurry."Then Cano wound up on the wrong side of a call by second base umpire Jeff Nelson, who missed seeing Cano tag Omar Infante. Instead of the Yankees getting the third out, the Tigers expanded their lead with a two-run eighth."If it was the right call, it'd be a different game," Cano said.A week shy of his 30th birthday, Cano is looking forward to a nine-figure contract after the 2013 season, when he can become a free agent. Instead of revving his resume, he's become a big factor in the Bronx Bombers' transformation into Bronx Busts.Cano grounded out four times Sunday, and his 0-for broke the previous mark of 24 for a single postseason set by Baltimore's Bobby Bonilla in 1996, according to STATS LLC. By the end of the game, fans were booing him as loudly as they jeered A-Rod.Derek Jeter's broken ankle seems to have left most of the rest of New York's batting order hurting, too, with Raul Ibanez, Mark Teixeira and Ichiro Suzuki the only consistent threats.Rodriguez is 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers, and fans mocked him with applause when he made contact and flied out. Curtis Granderson is 3 for 26 with 14 Ks, Nick Swisher 4 for 26 and Russell Martin 5 for 26.Girardi sounded peeved about the lack of plate prowess."You have to make adjustments. We know what they are doing to us," he said. "They are not going to put it on a tee for us. We know that. We are more than capable of scoring runs, and have done it a number of times this year."Rodriguez said that when Yankees hitters chased bad pitches, Tigers hurlers "became predator-like" and used "sucker pitchers."Swisher complained about hearing from angry fans in the right-field corner."You're trying to go up there, you're trying to get a hit," he said. "If you don't, people let you know about it. It's a tough spot, but hey, man, I guess that's playing in New York."Hiroki Kuroda had taken a perfect game into the sixth inning and was on the verge of escaping trouble in the seventh. Following Quintin Berry's leadoff double over Granderson in center and a single to right by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Kuroda struck out Prince Fielder and induced a grounder to shortstop from Delmon Young.Jayson Nix, starting in place of Jeter, made a good throw to second, where Cano stepped on the bag, But in transferring the ball for the throw to first, Cano allowed the ball to pop out of his right hand as Berry scored.Kuroda tied his season high with 11 strikeouts, allowing five hits and three runs in 7 2-3 innings. But the Yankees, looking like the old team that they are, have scored just 20 runs in seven postseason games, a figure more appropriate for 1968 than 2012."This game is a very cruel game sometimes," Teixeira said. "When you're hitting, it's fun and you enjoy it, and the team's winning and you're putting up your numbers. When you're cold, it stinks. I've been cold plenty of times, and it's not a fun feeling."

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

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Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.