Sharks hope no Heatley is no problem vs. Wild

413797.jpg

Sharks hope no Heatley is no problem vs. Wild

March 17, 2011

MINNESOTA (35-28-7) vs.
SHARKS (40-23-8)

Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

SAN JOSE (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks' Pacific Division lead could have been trimmed to one point with a fourth straight defeat. Instead, the Sharks feel momentum on their side following a comeback victory.

That could be hard for San Jose to maintain minus one of its best players.

Playing the first of two games without the suspended Dany Heatley, San Jose looks to continue its run toward the postseason Thursday night when it tries to extend its recent home success versus the Minnesota Wild, who are hoping the return of captain Mikko Koivu can spark a late-season charge.
RELATED: Heatley suspended for elbow to Ott's head

Coming off Monday's 6-3 loss at Chicago - its third consecutive defeat - San Jose (40-23-8) rallied from a 2-0 second-period deficit Tuesday to beat Dallas 6-3. Heatley and captain Joe Thornton had two goals apiece as the Sharks remained three points ahead of Los Angeles and Phoenix in the division standings.

REWIND: Sharks rally to beat Stars in Dallas

"Yeah, these were the results we were looking for," coach Todd McLellan said. "We challenged them after the effort that we had (Monday). We haven't had to do that much lately."

However, Heatley will be out for this contest and Saturday against St. Louis for elbowing Dallas' Steve Ott in the head. Heatley has 24 goals and is second on the team with 58 points while playing in all 71 games this season.

San Jose, 19-4-3 since Jan. 15, is third in the Western Conference standings and on the heels of second-place Detroit.

"We just have a lot of confidence now and momentum's a little bit more on our side," center Joe Pavelski said after recording a career-best four assists Tuesday.

Even without Heatley, San Jose should have plenty of confidence as it begins a three-game homestand. The Sharks are 7-0-1 against the Wild at home since a 4-1 loss Oct. 21, 2006.

In the teams' only meeting at HP Pavilion this season, San Jose won 4-3 on Jan. 22 behind two second-period goals from Devin Setoguchi.

Minnesota (35-28-7) had won the previous two matchups with San Jose - 1-0 on Nov. 2 and 5-3 on Dec. 29.

Looking to win the season series versus the Sharks for the first time since 2005-06, the Wild also hope to snap a three-game skid and improve their 11th-place standing in the West. Minnesota is just four points out of a playoff spot, but the club has scored only twice during its slide.

Koivu had a hand in both of those scores, finding the back of the net and assisting on Andrew Brunette's goal in Monday's 4-2 loss at Vancouver. Koivu, second on the team with 51 points, had missed the previous 11 games with a broken finger.

"You can't look behind. You've got to look forward. We're still right there," said Koivu, who leads Minnesota with three goals against the Sharks this season.

Niklas Backstrom has been in net for all three games against San Jose, but he may back up Jose Theodore in this matchup after going 1-5-0 with a 3.59 goals-against average in last six starts.

Theodore has won his last two starts in San Jose, with the last coming in 2008 while with Colorado.

If Antti Niemi makes his 27th consecutive start in front of Antero Niittymaki, it will be the second time he faces Minnesota this season. He turned away 23 shots on Jan. 22 to improve to 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA against the Wild.

The Sharks have killed just 19 of 28 opponent power plays in eight games this month, but Minnesota is 0 for 10 on the power play during its skid.

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

BOX SCORE

Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.

Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one. 

In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame. 

Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports. 

After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports

Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season. 

The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. 

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”