Kurz's Instant Replay: Giants 7, D'backs 3

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Kurz's Instant Replay: Giants 7, D'backs 3

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO It was the final game of the regular season at AT&T Park, and not a very important one at that, as the Giants are likely locked into their postseason position.
Sure, San Francisco used a six-run second inning to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-3, sending the 165th straight sellout crowd home happy. But whats more important, of course, is that there is more baseball to be played here.
In the meantime, the Giants completed their 10-game homestand with an impressive 8-2 mark, including winning two of three against Arizona. Overall at home, the Giants posted a 48-33 mark this season (.593).
Hunter Pence got the offense rolling with a two-run homer after a Buster Posey single led off the second inning. Later, a Hector Sanchez double plated Brandon Belt with no outs, while a passed ball by catcher Miguel Montero allowed Sanchez to score.
Marco Scutaro capped the inning with the Giants second two-run home run in the inning, scoring pitcher Barry Zito. Sanchezs solo shot in the bottom of the eighth capped the scoring.
San Franciscos bullpen tossed three scoreless innings after Zito left in the sixth with a three-run lead. Overall, the Giants have won Zitos last 10 starts, the longest streak of its kind for the franchise since 1992 (Bill Swift -- 11 startswins).
Starting pitching report
Zitos performance wasnt exactly dominant, but the Giants starter went six innings while allowing three runs (all earned). He struck out three and walked three while throwing 102 pitches, 63 for strikes. After allowing a leadoff triple to start the game to A.J. Pollock, Zito got Aaron Hill and Justin Upton to pop out before a groundout to Paul Goldschmidt kept the game scoreless.
Arizona managed to cut into San Franciscos lead in the fourth off of Zito, when Chris Youngs RBI single plated Goldschmidt and Cody Ransom to make it 6-2.
All six Giants runs in the second inning were earned and charged to starter Patrick Corbin. The lefty lasted just three innings total, allowing seven hits, with no walks or strikeouts.
Bullpen report
George Kontos, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo each tossed a scoreless inning after Zitos departure.
The Diamondbacks pen kept the Giants off of the board for more than four innings until Sanchezs two-out blast off of Brad Ziegler in the eighth.
At the plate
With his homer in the second, Scutaro increased his career-high hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the majors. It was Scutaros only hit of the afternoon, and hes 28-for-62 during the streak (.452 average).
Posey had two hits, but grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh with a chance to break the game open.
Goldschmidt was 2-for-4 for Arizona, while Ransom was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
In the field
Getting a rare start in left field, Brandon Belt struggled with the glove. A one-out double by Jason Kubel was catchable by Belt, and in the sixth, Arizonas Jake Elmore smacked a liner to left that Belt appeared to lose in the sun. Ransom, who doubled to left just before Elmores at-bat, scored on the play.
Gregor Blanco made the defensive play of the game after Belt moved to first, with a sliding catch in foul territory in the ninth off of the bat of Adam Eaton.
Leading off the third inning, Posey appeared to lift a routine pop-up into short right field. Goldschmidt, Hill and Upton all converged on the ball, but it fell harmlessly between the three of them.
Up next
The Giants head to San Diego for a three-game series against the Padres beginning Friday night. Ryan Vogelsong goes again Andrew Werner in the first game, while Madison Bumgarner takes the hill against Eric Stults on Saturday. Bruce Bochy said before Thursdays game that he has yet to decide who will face Edinson Volquez on Sunday.
The Giants close out the season with three games in Los Angeles on Oct. 1-3.

Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

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Notes: Injured Sharks Hansen, Karlsson return to practice

DALLAS – Injured Sharks forwards Jannik Hansen and Melker Karlsson both returned to the ice for Thursday’s practice in Dallas, in what Pete DeBoer called “a good first step” in their recoveries.

The coach left open the possibility that one or both could play against the Stars on Friday night, even though neither was skating on a set line for practice.

“We’ll have to wait and see how they feel [Friday] morning and what the recovery is,” DeBoer said. “I’m not prepared to say they’re in tomorrow, but it’s a good sign they’re on the ice and participated.”

Hansen has been out for the past two games since getting a stick in the head from defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday against Anaheim. 

“Took a couple days [off] to make sure everything was aright,” Hansen said. “Getting better, back on the ice today.”

Officially, it’s an upper body injury. When pressed if it was a concussion issue, Hansen said: “I don’t know. It’s tough to say to begin with, but obviously you do all the precautionary things that [are] involved now.”

Although he has just one assist in his first six games with the Sharks, Hansen seemed to spark the Sharks’ top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, as the line generated one even strength goal in each of the first four games Hansen played.

Karlsson has missed the last six games with a lower body injury. He has 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games with a plus-nine rating.

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The lines remained the same for Thursday’s practice. Patrick Marleau was with Thornton and Pavelski; Logan Couture centered Joel Ward and Mikkel Boedker; Tomas Hertl was between Mikkel Boedker and Marcus Sorensen, while the fourth line sweaters were worn by Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Timo Meier and Danny O’Regan.

San Jose stayed over in St. Paul on Tuesday night and flew to Dallas on Wednesday morning on their day off.

The Wild game, a 3-2 loss, was the Sharks’ fourth straight. They’ve generated just four goals over that span.

That game also capped off a stretch of seven games in 11 days for the Sharks, who now have just a two-point lead on Anaheim for first place in the Pacific Division – a lead that was nine points before the losing streak began.

Was the day off good?

“Yeah. We’ve been kind of struggling scoring goals, so just to kind of relax yesterday and then kind of get back and refocus today,” Thornton said. “But sometimes you just need a little time away from the rink. I think yesterday was needed.”

DeBoer said: “I think our group is pretty mature. I don’t think we’re overeating to the situation. No one’s happy we’ve lost a few, but we also know that we’ve done enough good things that we could have won two or three of those games. We’ve just got to stick with it, clean up a couple things, and score some goals.”

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Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic skated after missing Tuesday’s game with the flu. Tierney missed Monday’s game in Dallas, also due to illness.

Is that all gone now?

“Knock on wood. Nothing today. Hope so,” DeBoer said.

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

Meier back with Sharks after working on his game in AHL

ST. PAUL – On paper, Timo Meier’s production after he was reassigned to the AHL Barracuda on Feb. 16 was down. The former first-round pick had just six points (3g, 3a) in 14 games, and was scoreless in his last five, a far cry from what he was doing there earlier in the season and way off his numbers in juniors.

But at just 20 years old, Meier is still in the learning phase of his professional career. And as impressive as the Barracuda have been this season, they’re still playing in a developmental league, first and foremost. Meier got a chance to work on some of the aspects of his game he needed to work on.

“It was obviously hard going back,” said Meier, who has three goals and two assists in 28 games, before Tuesday’s game in Minnesota. “Sometimes you go back there and you try too much, but they told me to work on some things in my game, and I tried to do that.

“For me, going down there it was all about learning stuff on the ice, off the ice. … It’s my first year [in pro hockey], so as a young guy you want to learn and listen to the coaches, too. Just get better.”

Coach Pete DeBoer went into pretty good detail on what the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft needed to do with the Barracuda, and what he needs to show now that he’s back in the NHL.

“I think with a lot of big, talented young guys, they have to realize when they can make an extra play with the puck and when they have to chip it in,” DeBoer said. “They’re so used to dominating at the levels they’ve been at for so long, that [it’s] easier said than done. It’s habits you have to learn, and you don’t learn unless you’re doing them on a consistent basis.”

Meier’s shot selection, too, is something that needed some improvement, according to the coach. While the power winger might be generating plenty of shot attempts, no doubt pleasing the advanced stats crowd, there’s more to being an effective forward than running up numbers on the Excel spreadsheets.

“You don’t want to shoot [just] to shoot up here, or to just get shots on net. You’re not scoring on NHL goalies like you are on junior goalies from 30 or 40 feet out,” DeBoer said. “You’ve got to pick your spots. Sometimes you have to look for a better play than a shot.”

Meier said: “It’s a really tough league. As a young guy coming in, sometimes you’ve got to stay patient, too, try not [to do] too much. … Sometimes I tried [to do] a little too much.”

Meier has been in the Sharks’ lineup for each of the last two games. He started on the fourth line before getting bumped up to Tomas Hertl’s third line on Monday in Dallas, and returned to the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Micheal Haley for Tuesday’s tilt in Minnesota. He is scoreless with two shots on goal over those two games.

He could be a temporary fill in for Jannik Hansen, who remains out with an upper body injury but could potentially return before the end of the road trip this weekend. Or, perhaps Meier does enough to stick around for the stretch run and the playoffs. There would seem to be an opportunity to push someone else out of the lineup, as the Sharks’ depth scoring has been a season-long problem.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, getting that chance again later on in the season,” Meier said. “I want to put it all on the ice, leave it all out there and just make the best out of every shift I get. Play my game, play within my strengths, [do] the things that got me here, and I’m sure I’ll be successful like that.”