Urban: World Series Live Playoff Blog, Game 2


Urban: World Series Live Playoff Blog, Game 2

Oct. 28, 2010

UPDATED: 6:51 P.M.
Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Born in this fine city, raised in its suburbs and now making my living here, I take a lot of pride in it. Right now, though, Im a little concerned about our national reputation.Not because of whatever Josh Hamilton might think he smells wafting in from the bleachers.Not because of the down-on-their-luck folk aggressively working corners not far from the ballpark before World Series games, pestering out-of-towners not for spare change but cold, hard greenbacks.Not even because of the disrespect we seem to get from anyone East of the Mississippi. You know they think were baseball buffoons, right?
No, Im concerned about the way the outside world might start viewing us because of the Fist-Pump Cam. It needs to stop. Like, immediately.San Francisco is ripping off Jersey Shore???? No. Sorry. I know that the fans seem to like it and get into it, and the lyrics are all-Giants, all the time.Just again. San Francisco, Jersey Shore.UPDATED: 6:18 P.M.A day after the pitchers duel that everyone expected went the other way, devolving into an 18-run assault on expert analysis, Matt Cain and C.J. Wilson are flipping the script in their own way in Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park.Both guys throw hard and arent afraid to work high in the zone, and that led to some pretty prevalent overnight opinions.Given the way the Giants banged the ball around Wednesday, it was safe to assume they might have a shot at feasting on someone like Wilson, who isnt exactly know for Maddux-like command.And given the Rangers reputation for using their power to punish anyone who dares challenge them repeatedly with fastballs, it was safe to assume there was at least the potential for a decent night against Cain.Uh, no. At least not thus far, through 4 12 innings. Both guys are commanding the zone beautifully, keeping the ball down for the most part, and keeping anything but zeroes from going up on the scoreboard. The pace is swift. The pitches are crisp. The defenses are sharp.Its the pitchers duel we didnt get from Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee.UPDATED: 4:30 P.M.As if the rest of the country needed another reason to be envious.Now these people, many preparing for a bitterly cold winter of drippingsqueegees for the windshield and calluses from shovels, have to sufferthe sight that is Baseball Heaven, Nor Cal Style, Non-Ticket-HolderCategory.Thats what McCovey Cove has become. Its a party, to be sure, but notjust on the water. Its a scene and a half on the walkway the doublesas an homage to both whats inside (plaques, statues, 10-cent views ofthe field, etc.), and outside (revelers not quite bold enough to hitthe water but more than bold enough to guard some sort of sentry aboveit.I spent a good 45 minutes before the game today before Game 2 of theWorld Series between the Giants and Rangers, checking it all out,camera in hand, and came away smiling at the fortune bestowed uponGiants fans. You cant tell me any other fans have this. A calm-water cove filledwith every assortment of sailor, from the blue-blazer-wearing old guyon the yacht channeling Ted Knight in Caddyshack to the hardy soulswho plunked down a days wages to struggle mightily, joyously in maidenkayak voyages.Its a blissful lot, and understandably so. Youre close enough to feelit, yet far enough away -- and with more than enough to occupy amomentarily troubled mind -- to minimize the sting should things goawry inside.Tickets to this thing are tough. The Cove is free if you choose to staydry, and it costs but a pittance, relative to scalpers prices, to getright down in there.In other words, its an officially sanctioned Place To Be.And theres still time to catch the late innings of Game 2 from the most unique perspective in the big leagues. Dont miss the boat.

Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?


Giants Notes: Blach shows resiliency; Another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

Agony still present, Kerr uncertain if he can coach Warriors in NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO -- Those following the Warriors and their effort to rage through the playoffs should put away those thoughts and hopes that Steve Kerr will return to full-time coaching later this week or sometime before the NBA Finals.

Forget about it, unless you know something he doesn’t.

And if you do, he wants to hear what you have to say.

Don’t get it wrong: Kerr wants to coach, would love to coach. That’s why, even as he feels like hell, he’s hanging around the team like a languid groupie. He wants to be with the Warriors in the heat of battle because they’re his team, within the culture he instilled, and he would like nothing more to get another chance to win The Finals.

But because the procedure he underwent more than two weeks ago at Duke Spine Center did not deliver the relief he’d hoped for, Kerr knows he’s not up to the task and, therefore, continues to operate as sort of a associate head coach to acting head coach Mike Brown.

“Mike is doing great,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com late Monday night, after the Warriors clinched a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals with a 129-115 Game 4 win over the Spurs. “He’s such a wonderful human being. He’s so unselfish and team-oriented. I’m proud of him and the job he’s doing, along with the rest of the staff. I wish I could be out there with them. And maybe I will. I don’t know. We’ll see.

“He’s a great partner. And we’re in this together, obviously, but he’s got to make decisions with the staff without me. He’s done a great job of navigating the games. We’re undefeated, so he’s doing something right.”

Kerr can only help from the perimeter. The demands of the job require the coach be able to function at near-peak levels, particularly before and during a game, and he simply can’t. He knows there will be times, all too often, when the discomfort becomes unbearable to such a degree he hardly can think straight.

The agony is visible. The players see it. The staff sees it. Brown sees it, feels it and hears it. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is one of Kerr’s best friends -- as well as a good friend of Brown -- was able to see it during the Western Conference Finals.

“I've spoken with Steve and Mike; we're friends,” Popovich said two hours before Game 4. “We've known each other a long time. But as far as Steve's concerned, it's just a crap situation.

“You know, he's done a phenomenal job. And when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level. So I feel badly for him all the time but hopeful that stuff will get figured out.”

Nobody wants that more than Kerr, who has tried nearly everything any respectable specialist has recommended. So far, there has been no miracle.

So Kerr forges ahead, getting his Warriors fix by being around the group. By meeting with coaches and players. By meeting with general manager Bob Myers. Kerr was with the Warriors throughout their stay in San Antonio. He was at practices and shootarounds, sometimes on the floor and sometimes sitting in the stands observing from afar.

“I need to be around the guys,” he said. “I don’t want to miss this. Just being in the locker room, being able to talk to the guys means a lot to me. I’m thrilled for them. It’s fun to see how happy they are with three straight trips to The Finals. It’s pretty incredible.”

Kerr has been with the team for at least a few hours every day since May 10, less than a week after his procedure at Duke.

Kerr’s presence has been invaluable, both physically and psychologically, according to staff and players.

“Coach just empowers everybody,” Kevin Durant said. “His message is still the same. Even when he wasn't there in the Utah series, you could still feel his presence. That's what great leaders do.”

Participation, making himself feel useful, is one form of therapy that gives Kerr a semi-satisfying break from the misery.

“He watches film, and he watches the game,” Brown said. “So he gives his perspective from where he is. He gives insight on what we should be doing going forward, what he felt we could have done better, what we did that was good. So he just gives his input, mainly. He addresses the team every once in a while. He doesn't always do that, but he'll address the team from time to time.”

There was some belief that Kerr could return to full-time coaching within a week or so after the procedure, for which he declined to provide details. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob expressed hope Kerr might return “sooner rather than later.” Had it been as successful as Kerr and the doctors hoped, he would have.

That was May 5. Kerr announced he was stepping aside on April 23. As of Wednesday, he was been on leave for a full month.

Asked if he plans to travel during the NBA Finals, Kerr said he hopes so: “It’s like a month away,” he said, exaggerating the nine-day layoff.

He’d rather say with certainty that, yes, he will be accompanying the team because, after all, he’s the head coach.

And he will say that, the moment his body tells him it’s OK to do so.