Stars stop Sharks' streak with third-period rally

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Stars stop Sharks' streak with third-period rally

March 5, 2011

BOX SCORE SHARKS VIDEONHLPAGE NHLSCOREBOARD
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Trailing by one goal on the road against a surging team only a night after losing in overtime is just the kind of recipe that often makes teams wilt in the third period.Dallas somehow managed to dig deep enough to snap the San Jose Sharks' eight-game winning streak when Jason Williams scored his first goal of the season on a fluky deflection that gave the Stars a 3-2 victory Saturday night."Any time you're down by a goal in an opponent's building and find a way to win, it's something special," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "We were tired tonight, the back end of a back-to-back. It was a real gutsy, gritty effort."Loui Eriksson tied the game earlier in the third, Kari Lehtonen made 12 of his 29 saves in the final period and the Stars withstood four defensive zone faceoffs and a pair of icings in the final 74 seconds to hold on for the victory.Dallas had blown two-goal leads in the third period in its previous two games, including the 4-3 loss at Anaheim on Friday. But Lehtonen and the Stars hung on against the Sharks, who were unable to tie it despite having an extra skater on for the final stretch."The tank was definitely on empty," forward Steve Ott said. "They have a pretty deadly six guys out there that can hurt you any time. For us, all the icings worked. I guess we were trying to tire them out to make them keep skating back for the puck. All in all, it was great that we finally closed out that game rather than the last two getting pretty scary with them coming back."Williams signed as a free agent with Dallas last month after sitting out the first four months of the season. His goal with 7:12 remaining was by far his biggest contribution in 10 games with the Stars.He got possession of the puck behind the San Jose net and his centering attempt hit off the stick of Sharks forward Dany Heatley and slipped past Antti Niemi for the goal that ended San Jose's longest winning streak of the season.
The loss was San Jose's first at home since Jan. 13 and only its fourth overall in the past 21 games. The Sharks had surged from last place in the Pacific Division in January to third in the Western Conference standings over the past seven weeks but still are only seven points ahead of ninth-place Anaheim.
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"I don't think it was our best effort compared to the way we've been winning lately," said Patrick Marleau, who scored San Jose's second goal. "They did get a couple of good bounces that went their way but we had our opportunities to go ahead even more."The win was the fourth in Dallas' last five trips to San Jose and the Stars trailed in each of those victories. Dallas tied the game midway through the third when Mark Fistric's shot from the point deflected off a cluster of players in front of the net and Eriksson knocked in the loose puck for his 23rd goal of the season to make it 2-all.After Williams gave Dallas the lead, the Stars managed to kill off a late power play and hold on.The Sharks took a 2-1 lead into the third period after Marleau broke a tie early in the second. Marleau started and finished a give-and-go with Heatley, beating Lehtonen on a 2-on-1 just 1:22 into the second period to give San Jose the lead.For the second straight game the Sharks were the beneficiary of a favorable schedule as their opponent was coming off an overtime game in Anaheim the previous night. San Jose took advantage of that by beating Detroit 3-1 on Thursday, but didn't start as fast against the Stars.The Sharks went on the power play just a minute into the game when Karlis Skrastins shot the puck over the boards for a delay-of-game call. But just 19 seconds into the man advantage, Stephane Robidas sprung Jamie Benn with a long pass from behind his own goal line and Benn skated in alone on Niemi and beat him with a backhand.San Jose finished 0 for 3 on the power play."It took us too long to get in and we wasted some valuable minutes when we thought we could maybe establish some momentum," coach Todd McLellan said. "I wasn't particularly pleased with the power play. Obviously a short-handed goal 1 minute in doesn't help. You get back on your heels a little bit, they get a much stronger belief in their game and it took us basically a full period to get going again."Notes: San Jose rookie D Justin Braun was robbed by the post in each of the first two periods. ... Sharks G Antero Niittymaki (groin), who has not played since Jan. 13, was activated from IR before the game and Carter Hutton was sent back to the minors. ... Dallas F Jamie Langenbrunner missed the game after taking a hard hit the previous night. ... Sharks D Dan Boyle (upper body) missed his fourth straight game.

Giants spring training Day 12: Pence hits early, Marrero crushes walk-off in ninth

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Giants spring training Day 12: Pence hits early, Marrero crushes walk-off in ninth

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy thought he might take it slow with Hunter Pence this spring. Pence, of course, had other ideas. 

Pence, who was held back by intercostal soreness during the first week of workouts, insisted on playing the Cactus League opener. He drove in the first Giants run of the new year with a double off the wall in the bottom of the first inning. 

“I just like to be out there game one,” Pence said. “It’s a message. It’s good to be out there. I have every intention of being ready to play every game of the season, so getting out there game one is important to me.”

Bochy played plenty of regulars on the first day, but they were long gone when this one was decided in dramatic fashion. Chris Marrero, a non-roster invitee, hit a three-run walk-off homer as the Giants topped the Reds 6-4.

Marrero, 28, was one of the lead targets for a scouting staff that has made a habit of finding non-roster gems. The former first-round pick hit 23 homers for Boston’s Triple-A team and the Giants went after him hard when he became a minor league free agent. Marrero said his agent got a call within the first five minutes. It was an easy decision, in part because of the non-roster history here and in part because Marrero never got a call-up despite minor league success with the Red Sox. 

“If this team wants you, it’s a good thing,” Marrero said of the Giants. 

Marrero plays first base and the outfield, and while there are plenty of longtime big leaguers in camp, he certainly made a statement on the first day. The slider he hit went out to left in a hurry. 

“He’s a right-handed bat with power,” Bochy said. “He threw out good at-bats on the first day. We’re excited he signed with us. He’s going to get some at-bats here.”

THE ACE: Bochy gave Madison Bumgarner the option of skipping this game and making his debut next week, but Bumgarner — who typically doesn’t throw off a mound until he gets to camp — wanted to face hitters. “I thought it’d be good to get out there and get my feet wet,” he said. Bumgarner worked with Nick Hundley, who made some friends the first time out. 

PROSPECT WATCH: Clayton Blackburn delivered a bit of a message with two perfect innings: Don’t forget about me. 

Blackburn has been bumped down the depth chart by Ty Blach and Tyler Beede, but he was sharp while striking out three. “He was right on, wasn’t he?” Bochy said.

Blackburn was a big story last spring, coming off a season where he led the PCL with a 2.85 ERA. He had a 4.36 ERA last season and that led to some offseason changes. Blackburn said he threw off a mound 10-12 times before coming to camp last year, but he limited it to a handful of sessions this year, instead focusing on flat-ground throws into a net.

“You only have so many bullets,” he said, noting there was some fatigue last season. “You can’t waste them all in the offseason.”

Blackburn was called up last season but never got into a game. 

“There’s definitely a lot more hunger,” he said. “It’s always cool to get called up, but it was disappointing not to get in and not see any more time the rest of the year. It’s disappointing, but it’s part of the game.”

With a few more outings like Friday’s, Blackburn will get that second shot. His peripherals were just about the same across the board in 2015 and 2016, with the glaring difference being 12 additional homers in a hitter-friendly league. If he cuts back on the home runs, there’s no reason why Blackburn can’t get back in the mix here. 

NOTEWORTHY: Jimmy Rollins was 1-for-2 in his Giants debut, with a run scored … Wynton Bernard, the speedy outfielder plucked from Detroit’s system, scored on a double and two wild pitches … Jae-gyun Hwang didn’t have the best debut. He struck out twice and stumbled (for an error) on a slow roller to third ... Healthy Joe Panik had two hits in two at-bats ... Orlando Calixte played second and short and Bochy lit up when talking about his versatility. Calixte will see time in the outfield this spring, too. 

FAMILIAR FACES: It was 2010 Day at the ballpark, as Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina and Jeremy Affeldt were all on the field during BP. Molina and Affeldt were part of broadcast teams, but Sanchez was here with his under-9 travel ball team. Per Sanchez, the team is the best U9 team in Arizona. 

QUOTABLE: “We feed off each other and I know he feeds off of me. Hunter is a special cat. He’s the most positive person you’ll ever come across, but it’s hard because he plays with the team-first mentality and he puts himself second and sometimes that gets really hard on a person and can weigh a person down. I like to be there with him and bounce things off of him and try to keep him light and energetic. I’m not saying I take anything away from him, but don’t let him carry this big burden. Be that guy for him. He can be Batman, I’ll be Robin.” --- Mike Morse during an interview that airs on my podcast this week. You can stream it online here or download it on iTunes here.

A's spring training Day 11: Doolittle eager for Casilla to arrive

A's spring training Day 11: Doolittle eager for Casilla to arrive

MESA, Ariz. — It’s been a strange spring so far for the A’s bullpen, which holds big potential but has been shorthanded early in camp.

Consider Friday a step forward, as Sean Doolittle threw off a mound for the first time since workouts began Feb. 15. He’s being eased along slowly in an effort to keep his throwing shoulder fresh and healthy.

Any day now, Oakland also hopes to add Santiago Casilla to the mix. The right-hander, who signed to a two-year $11 million deal in January, has missed the first 10 days of spring training while awaiting his visa paperwork to be completed in the Dominican Republic.

Manager Bob Melvin had no updates for the media Friday. But Doolittle, for one, eagerly anticipates Casilla’s arrival.

“We hope he gets here soon,” Doolittle said. “I think he’s going to be ready for Opening Day regardless of when he gets here.”

Casilla, who rang up 123 saves for the Giants over the past seven seasons, is projected as a key piece for the relief corps. To this point Melvin hasn’t expressed public concern about Casilla’s absence, but he said the urgency will kick in a bit if the Cactus League schedule starts unfolding and Casilla still hasn’t reported. The A’s play their first exhibition Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.

A healthy Doolittle is just as important because he’s a hard-throwing left-hander in a bullpen otherwise dominated by righties. He threw off the mound before spring training began and has said he feels good. But he and the training staff are taking the conservative route after shoulder strains have limited him to 56 games over the past two years. His 20-pitch session Friday went well.

“All fastballs, but it was coming out clean,” Doolittle said. “I was really happy with how I was able to repeat things and put the ball where I wanted to.”

Doolittle got to know Casilla during spring camp in 2008 and ’09, when Doolittle was a prospect still playing first base and Casilla was in his first stint with Oakland.

“That’s a guy I think I can learn a lot from,” he said. “A lot of guys can learn from him.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Sort of cheating to place Jharel Cotton in this section, as he’s likely to land in the starting rotation. But the right-hander was sharp facing hitters Friday.

“The deception just stands out with him,” Melvin said. “… He’s got an assortment of breaking pitches.”

Lefty A.J. Puk, last year’s first-round pick, faced hitters for the second time and gave up little in the way of hard contact, with his changeup standing out in particular.

BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE ALERT: After missing the majority of last season following left hip surgery, outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha has earned strong praise from Melvin early on. Canha will draw the start in left field Saturday and hit cleanup against the Cubs in the Cactus League opener.

“He worked hard in the offseason. His swing looks good,” Melvin said. “He looks like he’s in great shape and I think he’s out to prove a serious point this year — that he can be a very productive guy at the big league level, as we’ve seen before.”

As the roster stands, Canha lines up as a platoon partner with Matt Joyce in right field and could also see time at first or DH.

NOTEWORTHY: With exhibition play starting, the A’s held their final workout at the Lew Wolff Training Complex and will shift operations over to Hohokam Stadium, where they will hold batting practice and pre-game workouts.

ICYMI Catch up with third base prospect Matt Chapman and what he learned during an up-and-down year at Double-A in 2016. 

A’s president Dave Kaval talked at length about the team’s ballpark search in the most recent A’s Insider Podcast.