Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 2


Urban: NLDS Live Playoff Blog, Game 2

UPDATED: 9:30 P.M.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Boy, was I wrong.All night long, since Pat Burrell's three-run homer in the first inning, I've been saying the game was over. But Sergio Romo couldn't get an out in the eighth, leaving runners atthe corners for Brian Wilson, and an error by third baseman PabloSandoval, a sacrifice bunt, and a two-run double by Alex Gonzalez justtied the game at 4-4 in a matter of minutes.Torture, anyone?Of course. What was I thinking? These are the 2010 Giants. Nothing comes easy. UPDATED: 8:52 P.M.
Matt Cain, who came up empty exactly a week ago when he had a chance to clinch the NL West championship against the Padres, just walked off the mound at AT&T Park to a loud and well-deserved standing ovation.Following the lead of Tim Lincecum, who refused to be overwhelmed by the pressure of pitching in his first playoff game Thursday night, Cain was only slightly less effective Friday.Cain's outing wasn't nearly as flashy as was Lincecum's, but that's pretty much always the case. If Lincecum is Hendrix. Cain is Andy Summers, the quietly spectacular guitarist for the Police.All Cain did was work 6 23 innings, allowing only an unearned run while scattering seven hits and two walks. He struck out seven.Not exactly the Rembrandt that Lincecum painted on Thursday. More like the reliable, affordable, durable work provided by the local house painter who buys you a beer when he's done with the job.Cain left the game with two out and a runner on first. Lefty Javier Lopez came on to retire Jason Heyward, a left-handed hitter, leaving the Giants six outs from taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the first-to-three-wins series.Im not even going to mention that I think this games over anymore. The standing-O that just washed over Cain as he strolled off the field said it best.
UPDATED: 8:29 P.M.The Braves finally made their first offensive noise of the series in the sixth inning when Brian McCann's single scored Derrek Lee from second base to make it 4-1 with nobody out.But it wasn't exactly the kind of outburst that had anyone associated or rooting for the Giants quaking in their Uggs.Lee was at second only because Giants left fielder Pat Burrell, who has only a slightly better chance of wining a Gold Glove than does Edward Scissorshands, bobbled Lee's single.McCann's single was legit, as was Lee's, but Cain quickly righted himself after a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti.What, you have to wonder, went down during that discussion? Rags: Sorry, man. He's Pat the Bat, not Pat the GloveCain: No worries, brah. Pat hit a three-run jack. He's still plus-two.Rags: Did you just say, "Brah"?Cain: No, Urban pretended I did. Come on, dude, I'm from Memphis. We leave people who say "Brah" bloodied in the fetal position behind the bait-and-tackle shop down on General Grant Street.Rags: OK. Go get 'em.And he did. Three up, three down, disaster averted.Did I mention that I think this game is over?UPDATED: 8:11 P.M.I pride myself on paying attention to detail, but I missed a biggie here in the first few innings.The rally towels -- a tired notion if there ever was one -- have been replaced by orange pom-pons.Pom-pons? That's actually the correct spelling, by the way, and who on earth knows why?
This is what goes though my head when the game starts dragging a little. But guess I should give you a game update, huh? Matt Cain gave up a single to Nate McClouth, who was pinch hitting for Braves starter Tommy Hanson, with one out in the fifth inning, and Omar Infante followed with a walk.All of a sudden, the Braves had a little life. In bars all across Georgia, the tomahawk chop was in full force. Jason Heyward was stepping to the plate, and here was his chance to show everyone that Buster Posey isn't the only rookie with a flair for the dramatic. One big swing and it's 4-3. New ballgame. Alas, Heyward's swing did nothing more than produce a ground ball to shortstop Juan Uribe that was tailor-made for an inning-ending double play, and for the 74th time of the night, the crowd went nuts.Cain's working on a four-hit shutout, by the way, and Hanson's gone after four innings. Did I mention that I think this game is over?UPDATED: 8 P.M.Is Chipper Jones managing the Braves with Bobby Cox out? he's being interviewed on the telecast as I type, and it just looks weird. Whatever. Chipper's a stud and a likely Hall of Famer. Let the guy wax all he wants.Meanwhile, the rest of us are being entertained by the "Kiss Cam" here at the yard. I swear, it's my favorite between-innings entertainment of all time. I don't know why, but it just cracks me up. And whenever it pops up, I warn those around me: If the camera finds us, we WILL play tonsil hockey. I don't care if it's Ray Ratto. I'm all about entertaining the masses, and I'll take any cheap laugh I can get.Don't think I'm kidding, either. In Kansas City a few years ago, the "Kiss Cam" found me and a friend of mine from MLB.com sitting together. Imagine his surprise when I went for him like a Serpent Gone Wild.He resisted, of course, so the scene nobody in the Midwest wanted to see never happened, but it did get a big roar from the crowd, and that's all that really matters. UPDATED: 7:33 P.M.Love that the Giants voted to wear their orange jerseys tonight. They opened the season 9-0 on Orange Friday, but they never won at home on Friday again during the regular season, including that deflating loss to the Padres in which Matt Cain could have slammed the NL West door on the Friars.It would have been easy to ditch the Mike Ivie look for the playoffs, but these Giants don't bail on anything. Orange Friday is almost like a holiday, and the playoffs are like Christmas to begin with. Thus, Orange Friday during the playoffs is like the product of Easter and Halloween mating and putting the little one on HGH.What does that even mean? I don't know. I'm kind of caught up in this whole deal, too. What I do know is that what I just saw from Cain is a very good sign.
As soon as Derrek Lee lifted a fly ball to left field with two out in the top of the third inning, Cain didn't look at the ball or Lee or anything but the dugout, to which he purposefully strode like a man certain that the world is his for the night.Did I mention yet that I think this game is already over?Braves manager Bobby Cox has been tossed out of more baseball games than Kenny Powers has been tossed out of bars.Only Cox isn't fictional. His reaction to an incredible play by Giants shortstop Juan Uribe for the second out in the top of the second inning, however, suggested that he's living in a different world.Uribe, ranging deep into the hole to his right on a smash off the bat of Alex Gonzalez, unleashed the beast that is his right arm and got Gonzalez by a good half-step. Cox, though, saw something different.Maybe it was an homage of sorts to umpire Paul Emmel, who thought he saw Buster Posey steal second base in the fourth inning of Game 1. Or maybe Cox finally wanted a piece of Emmel, who deliciously enough is the ump at first base tonight. UPDATED: 7:24 P.M.Whatever the case, Cox got himself tossed again by arguing the call a bit too vociferously, and the momentum is squarely in the Giants' corner at this point. Cody Ross just ran in the face of Braves left fielder Melky Cabrera on what for most people would be a routine single to left, and Matt Cain followed with an RBI single that made it 4-0, Giants.As I said in my earlier post, this game is over. No way Cain coughs this up. A choker he is not.Cox, meanwhile, is probably choking down a few pops in the clubhouse at this point. He's been around. He probably saw this coming.
UPDATED: 7:11 P.M.As if Pat Burrell hadn't already been fully embraced by Giants fans as a god of sorts, he cemented such a few moments ago when he pummeled a three-run homer into the left-field bleachers with two out in the bottom of the first inning. It came just as another sellout crowd was staring to get a bit edgy, but the mood quickly turned to ebullient when Burrell's deep drive cleared the wall.Remember my keys to tonight's game? One was Matt Cain handing the adrenaline sure to surge through his veins during his first playoff start, and he did that by throwing up a zero in the top of the first. He allowed a leadoff single to Omar Infante and walked Brian McCann with two out, but he wiggled out of the mini-jam by rolling Melky Cabrera to second base to the delight of the 43,000-plus fans fired up for Orange Friday.That was nothing compared to how fired up the crowd got when Burrell, after a one-out single by Freddy Sanchez and a two-out walk by Buster Posey, went souvenir guy.The story keeps getting better for Burrell, and the collision course with his former club in Philly seems almost predestined at this point,Another key was getting Cain an early lead. The Giants are 19-2 in the past 21 games in which they've scored first. Lock it in now. This is a given. The Giants will win this game, and the record will move to 20-2.

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

Sharks Jones, Tierney find more success in Vancouver in 4-1 win

VANCOUVER – One of the more appealing NHL road cities, Vancouver dazzles with its beautiful mountain scenery and walkable downtown avenues.

The Sharks undoubtedly relish those aspects of their trips to British Columbia, but more importantly they’ve enjoyed them on a professional basis, too. San Jose won its 10th straight game at Rogers Arena on Saturday, 4-1, kicking off the final push to the playoffs with a victory coming out of the bye week.

“I think we definitely got better as the game went on, and that’s what you’re looking for,” said Mikkel Boedker, who was one of four Sharks’ goal scorers. “We came out with the win.”

Two Sharks in particular have enjoyed their recent excursions into Vancouver. 

Martin Jones was the best player on the ice, making 35 saves in his hometown. He was relied upon early as the Sharks predictably struggled to get their legs underneath them in what was their first game since last Sunday.

Jones made an impressive stop on Loui Eriksson in the first period, and in the second he stopped Jannik Hansen from point blank range with the Sharks holding a 1-0 lead. Later in the second, it was saves on Alex Edler and Hansen again that preserved San Jose’s 2-1 lead at the intermission. Vancouver was outshooting the Sharks 30-16 after 40 minutes, but trailed.

The Sharks rewarded their goalie with scores by Boedker and Logan Couture on the power play to make the final few minutes of the third period relatively easy.

“When [Jones] plays like that it gives us confidence, and we’ve just got to stick with it and keep creating chances, and we did that tonight,” said Boedker, who snapped a 19-game goal drought.

“[Jones] was our best player tonight,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Jones improved to a perfect 4-0 in Vancouver, all in a San Jose sweater, with a 1.25 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. He spent the bye week in the area, and had several supporters in the stands.

“It’s always fun playing in front of friends and family,” Jones said. “Happy to get the win here.”

Chris Tierney is another player who seems to thrive in Vancouver. He notched a pair of assists and centered the team's most effective line, after getting his first career two-goal game here earlier this month.

His new line, featuring wingers Tomas Hertl and Joel Ward, opened the scoring in the second period, with Hertl finishing off a pass from Tierney after Ward’s breakaway attempt crept just wide of the net. Later, Tierney got a secondary assist on Patrick Marleau’s second period goal, restoring the Sharks' lead at 2-1.

“They did a good job. I thought some of those guys had our better legs early,” DeBoer said of his third line. “It took some of our veteran guys a little longer to get into it.”

Tierney, who was scoreless in eight straight games since his last time at Rogers Arena on Feb. 2, said: “I thought we generated some good chances. I think we can get better, too. We kind of talked on the bench throughout the game of what we can kind of do to improve and where each other is going to be on the ice, but it felt good playing with those guys. It’s easy to create offense with them.”

In seven career games in Vancouver, Tierney has four goals and three assists for seven points.

“Something about the Vancouver air, or Canadian air,” he said. “I always feel good when I play here.”

After dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to Boston in their final game before the break, the Sharks had a five-point lead over the rest of the division headed into a week off. Saturday’s win pushes the lead back up to five points again on Anaheim and Edmonton, and they now have games in hand on both of those teams, too.

It all adds up to a good start in what is the final stretch before the postseason, and a quest for a division title. Overall, the Sharks are 3-0-3 in their last six games, and have just one regulation loss in their last 11 (5-1-5).

“It’s huge, that’s what you play the regular season for,” said Boedker, when asked about the Sharks padding their lead. “You keep trying to gain as many points as you can, and lately we’ve had some overtime losses, but we keep gaining points.”

Warriors to release Briante Weber, will sign another guard

Warriors to release Briante Weber, will sign another guard

The Warriors are releasing guard Briante Weber, head coach Steve Kerr announced to the media after the team's 112-95 win over the Nets on Saturday night at Oracle Arena. 

Weber played 2:20 against Brooklyn, scoring four points with one rebound and one steal. He went 2-for-3 from the field and was plus-3 on the night. 

The 24-year-old VCU product played in seven games for the Warriors since coming up from the D-League in early February. Weber averaged 1.7 points, 0.6 rebounds and 0.5 assists per game with Golden State. 

Kerr acknowledged the Warriors will sign a guard and the process is already in motion.