Sharks notebook: Niemi getting comfortable


Sharks notebook: Niemi getting comfortable



Although goalie Antti Niemi didnt have to stand on his head, he did have to make a few very tough saves among his 26 in San Joses 2-0 win over Boston on Saturday afternoon.

RECAP: Niemi skunks Bruins, Sharks 2-0 on road trip
Antero Niittymaki was unable to dress due to re-tweaking a reported groin injury, so it was Niemi making his eighth straight start. He stopped David Krejci with a nice pad save late in the second period to preserve the Sharks lead, and then in the third was able to keep his eye on the puck through traffic on Patrice Bergerons bid for the top corner.NEWS: Sharks' Niittymaki tweaks groin injury in practice
Todd McLellan said that Niemi is fully acclimated to his new surroundings after signing as a free agent out of Chicago over the summer, and it shows. Furthermore, by being the only viable option with Niittymaki hurt again, it helps his preparation.He is now a Shark, said McLellan. Hes fit in very well, he feels comfortable, he knows the guys, and he knows how everybody is going to react in certain situations.He also knows hes playing. With the injuries that we have to the goaltending group in our organization, he knows that hes going to put the pads on and play. He can be comfortable with that, and the rest at the All-Star break I think helped him.Thorntons returnIts several years removed since he left town, but Sharks captain Joe Thornton is always glad to come back to the place in which he called home for the first eight-plus seasons of his career. Saturday marked his third game at the TD Garden since he was traded to San Jose on Dec. 1, 2005.I really enjoyed my time here and I still have a lot of family and friends still here, and I always like coming back. But, Im a Shark, and I like being out there, said Thornton.He doesnt put any added value on the fact that it was Boston on the losing end against his current club.Its just a win, he deadpanned. Maybe the first time I was here I wanted to win that first one, but now its just like any other road game.Thornton could have ended up as one of the goats of the game after he was sent to the box for tripping Adam McQuaid at 10:10 of the third period, but the Sharks killed the penalty and kept their 1-0 lead.Too much chirping?There was one particularly odd call in the second period that went against San Jose. With the Sharks controlling the puck in the offensive zone, the referees suddenly blew the play dead and called a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct at 10:03.Apparently, someone from the bench was using some, lets say, salty language in the direction of the officials.As anyone who watched HBOs 247 would know, Theres a lot of f-bombs out there, said Dan Boyle. I dont know who said it, but usually you need a little bit more than that to earn a penalty.Boyle added he didnt know who said it, and when McLellan was asked about it, said, it wasnt the head coach.The Sharks killed off the penalty, which was served by Devin Setoguchi.Scoring streaks intactDespite scoring just two goals, a pair of Sharks kept their scoring streaks going. Setoguchis empty-net goal, on a pretty tough angle from the far boards by the faceoff dot, gives him at least a point in five straight games (4g, 3a). Ryane Clowe, who assisted on both goals, also increased his point-scoring streak to five games (3g, 4a).

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday


Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Hahn, Alonso leave with injuries, A's drop slugfest to Marlins

Hahn, Alonso leave with injuries, A's drop slugfest to Marlins


OAKLAND -- Justin Bour matched his career high with four hits including his fourth home run in five games to highlight Miami's best offensive game of the season, and the Marlins held off a late surge to beat the Oakland Athletics 11-9 on Tuesday night.

Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon had three hits each on a night when every Miami player had at least one by the third inning. Three other Marlins had two hits apiece while Ichiro Suzuki added a two-run single in his return to the starting lineup.

Miami entered the day with the second-worst record in the majors having dropped 14 of 17 before getting a season-high 19 hits against Oakland in the first meeting between the two clubs since 2014.

Yonder Alonso hit his 13th home run of the season for the A's, but left with a bruised right hand after getting hit by a pitch in the sixth. Ryon Healy and Rajai Davis also homered for Oakland.

Jose Urena (2-2) pitched five uneven innings for his first career interleague win in 10 appearances. The Miami right-hander allowed six runs over five innings, raising his ERA from 1.91 to 3.08.

Jesse Hahn (1-4) took the loss and left the game in the third inning with a triceps strain. He pitched just two innings, giving up five runs on seven hits while striking out two. He gave up a single to Christian Yelich in the third then left after a visit to the mound by the Oakland trainer.

The A's scored three times in the ninth and had the tying runner at the plate with two outs before AJ Ramos struck out Stephen Vogt.

Bour doubled as part of a three-run third, singled and scored in the fifth, homered leading off the seventh then singled again in the ninth. It was Bour's 12th home run this season and eighth in his last 12 games.

Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen received a platelet-rich plasma treatment before the game. The left-hander has been out since early May with arm fatigue. . RHP David Phelps was placed on the bereavement list and is expected to rejoin the team Friday. . Reliever Drew Steckenrider was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. . RHP Junichi Tazawa (rib cage inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen this weekend.

Athletics: X-rays taken on Alonso's hand were negative. . LHP Sean Doolittle (shoulder strain) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen Wednesday. If all goes well, the former closer could face hitters in his next outing. . RHP Ryan Dull continues to be bothered by soreness in his right knee.

Miami right-hander Edinson Volquez (0-6) pitches the finale of this two-game series Wednesday afternoon while Oakland counters with right-hander Sonny Gray (1-1). Gray is attempting to win consecutive starts for the first time since April 2016.