Triple play helps Dodgers edge Padres

734844.jpg

Triple play helps Dodgers edge Padres

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Matt Kemp called it "very weird." Chase Headley described it as a "crazy occurrence." Nearly everyone was shaking their heads after the Los Angeles Dodgers turned a bizarre triple play in the top of the ninth inning before Dee Gordon singled home the winning run in the bottom half of a 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday. It was 4-all when the Dodgers turned their first triple play since June 13, 1998, against Colorado. Chris Denorfia led off with a single against Javy Guerra (1-0) and Headley walked. Jesus Guzman squared to bunt, but the pitch came high and tight and hit his bat as he backed away. The ball landed in front of the plate and catcher A.J. Ellis alertly picked it up and threw to third. "I was very confident I heard it hit the bat. I didn't hear anything from the umpire behind me," he said. Guzman, startled by what happened, didn't run to first base, which made it easy for third baseman Juan Uribe to relay to shortstop Gordon at second base. In turn, he threw to James Loney to complete the triple play. "As soon as I got the ball to Juan and nobody was running I said, This is going to be a triple play,'" Ellis said. "They were sure it was a foul ball and we were sure it was a bunted ball." Padres manager Bud Black came out to argue with plate umpire and crew chief Dale Scott, who ejected him. "It happened so fast," said Black, who thought he heard two sounds when the ball hit the bat. "It sounded funny." He came into the clubhouse and watched a replay. "There's not many times where a ball headed for the face turns into a triple play," Black said. "I looked at the take, and it was a fair ball." Headley saw Scott's hands go up and believed the umpire was signaling that the ball hit the bat, then hit him in the batter's box, making it a foul ball. "When he throws his hands up like that, it's supposed to be a foul ball. I told him that five times. He said that he was just trying to get out of the way," Headley said. "He wasn't just sticking his hands up. He waved them, and to me, that means foul ball, regardless of whether it hit him or didn't hit him. That's irrelevant." Scott told a pool reporter that the umpiring crew didn't see the ball hit the batter. "It was off the bat and then straight down," he said. "We saw several angles, including the replay here and we also called in and asked for the replay from New York and looked at that. The ball went straight down and I thought it hit the bat. I heard bat. "I moved out of the way of the catcher, and now all of sudden, I have two bodies in front of me. I didn't see where the ball was. I saw it trickle in front of the plate. Without having seen it hit, I have to assume that's a fair ball." First base umpire Bill Miller confirmed that the ball was momentarily foul before it rolled fair again. Scott said as long as the ball isn't touched it's fair. "There was nothing verbal (from the umpire), so I just picked it up and started throwing," Ellis said. "You keep playing and don't assume anything." The Dodgers improved to 9-1, the best mark in the major leagues and equaling their best start since opening the 1981 season with the same record. Kemp hit his fourth homer in three games as the Dodgers sent San Diego to its fourth loss in a row. The Dodgers won the series opener Friday night when the winning run was forced in on a bases-loaded walk. "I'm proud of my guys," he said. "We're finding ways to win. Whatever it is, we're getting it done." The Dodgers had the same situation in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and nobody out, with Juan Uribe in a sacrifice situation against Brad Brach (0-1). Uribe successfully got the bunt down and Ellis was intentionally walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. fouled out before Gordon slapped an 0-2 pitch to left field, setting off a wild celebration between first and second base. Gordon had struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and earlier committed an error. "I shouldn't have put (Clayton) Kershaw in the spot. That's on me," Gordon said. "I was glad I could come through for him." A joyous Kemp tackled Gordon, leading to a dog pile of players. "I had to get my licks in," Kemp said. The Dodgers gave Kershaw to a 4-1 lead. But Josh Lindblom gave up a tying two-run single to pinch-hitter Jeremy Hermida in the sixth, leaving last year's NL Cy Young winner with his third no-decision in as many starts. The Dodgers improved to 6-0 at home with their ninth straight win against San Diego at Dodger Stadium. San Diego tied it at 4 with three runs in the sixth. Orlando Hudson had a bases-loaded RBI single through the hole past Gordon to finish Kershaw, and Hermida hit a bases-loaded single. Kershaw allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked three. The left-hander's three earned runs were the most he's allowed since last Aug. 7, a span of 11 starts. "We were just a little bit off the rhythm and timing," Ellis said. "He'll bounce back and be ready to go." Padres starter Edinson Volquez gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked five. NOTES: The Dodgers swept a six-game homestand for the first time since the opening homestand of the 2009 season, when they swept the Giants and Rockies in six games. ... Volquez hasn't reached the sixth inning in either of his two starts against the Dodgers this season. .. Padres C Nick Hundley snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a single in the third. His drought was the longest to start a season by a Padres non-pitcher since Ozzie Smith's club record 0-for-32 stretch in 1979. ... Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully returned to the booth after missing five days with a bad cold. "I'm just going to give thanks that I'm here," the 84-year-old said. ... Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul took his 2-year-old son to the youngster's first major league game.

Earthquakes GM defends firing coach: 'I think this team can achieve more'

Earthquakes GM defends firing coach: 'I think this team can achieve more'

SAN JOSE -- There was a lot of confusion coming out of San Jose on Sunday afternoon when the Earthquakes announced they had fired Dominic Kinnear midway through his third season with the club. 

On Monday, new general manager Jesse Fioranelli did his best to stabilize a shaky situation. 

“In the last two, three months, I matured a gut feeling as to where we stand as a club,” Fioranelli said about the catalyst for his decision. “When I realized that, heading into the next season, we would not renew with Dominic Kinnear, I said to myself that we wouldn’t want to hold onto this for the remainder of the season — especially also because I have a personal relationship that I very much appreciated in Dominic. And the respect that I have in this relationship would not have allowed me to want to go for another three months knowing that we would have parted ways at the end of the season.”

The timing of Kinnear’s departure was undoubtedly the most confusing part of Sunday’s announcement. The Quakes, who sit fifth in the Western Conference standings, had just beaten Real Salt Lake 2-1 on Saturday night. According to reports, Kinnear was summoned by Fioranelli on Sunday morning and shortly thereafter, he was informed that he would no longer be the head coach. Fioranelli said that it's a decision he had pondered for a couple of months and made the week before. So, despite the win and possible perception, the new GM knew he had to follow through with his decision with conviction.

“I think this team can achieve more,” Fioranelli said. “I think that we have still a story to tell as to the young players we have on the roster. I believe we have a story to tell as to how we want to present ourselves when we play away. I believe that we will want to mature a certainty as to our identity on the field.”

It’s a lack of identity that helped Fioranelli mature the idea of making the switch 17 matches into an MLS season that, if it ended today, would have San Jose in the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

According to Quakes midfielder Shea Salinas, the decision came as a shock to players. The midfielder added that Kinnear addressed the locker room Monday morning. 

Kinnear started his second stint as head coach of the Earthquakes in 2015 and led San Jose to a 27-31-27 record in that time. Including his first term as head coach with San Jose in 2004 and 2005, his all-time record with the Quakes is 54-45-48. Kinnear led San Jose to the Supporters' Shield in 2005 and helped the Quakes break in Avaya Stadium in 2015, improving the club's point total by 17 in his first year over the previous season.

Taking over for Kinnear is first-time head coach Chris Leitch, who after retiring from professional soccer in 2011, has worn many hats for the Quakes since joining the organization in 2012. Before being named the head coach, he was in charge of the Earthquakes’ youth academy system, was the club’s technical director and even its interim general manager after the firing of John Doyle. 

“Chris Leitch is not just the bridge. He is part of the foundation of this club,” Fioranelli said. “For that reason, we did not want someone to come from abroad and take over this team We wanted someone that cares, someone that knows the players, knows the team to take on this important next chapter. He’s absolutely equipped to take on this challenge.

“All I can tell you is, the moment that I confronted Chris (with the opportunity to be the new head coach) he did not hesitate a moment. And he had not been waiting for this either. I can just tell you, when you are working day-in and day-out on several different important areas, you’ll grow a certainty as to how you will see the game, how you would like to develop the game, how you would like to see the players confront situations on the field, how you’d want to communicate.”

The learning curve will come steep and quick for Leitch. The Quakes are not only battling for a spot in the playoffs, but they’re in a middle of stretch has has them playing three games in the next eight days — a U.S. Open Cup bout with reigning MLS champion Seattle, a Stanford Cali Clasico battle with longtime rival L.A. and then a cross country trip to Atlanta.

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.

I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.

Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?

But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.

Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.

According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.

In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.

“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.

But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.

And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.

Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.

The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.

That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.

Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.

The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.

So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?

Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.

But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.

See how many wins you get then.