Vogelsong, fading Giants fight to move forward


Vogelsong, fading Giants fight to move forward

Aug. 30, 2011

CUBS (58-77) vs.
GIANTS (71-64)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants are making things awfully difficult on themselves, but they've proven they can come back from a daunting deficit.

Coming off their worst offensive showing of the season, the Giants try to avoid falling even further out of first place when they face the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

A multitude of concerns seemed to arise for San Francisco (71-64) in Monday's series-opening 7-0 loss. The Giants' punchless offense was two-hit by the unlikely Randy Wells, and Chicago (58-77) made Tim Lincecum look quite vulnerable, tagging the two-time Cy Young Award winner for a career-high three homers.

The discouraging performance, coupled with a victory by NL-West leading Arizona, dropped the Giants five games out of first place for the first time since May 2.

URBAN: The Giants just aren't very good

Although the Giants have lost seven of 11 and are running out of time, a surge to first place isn't out of the question.

Exactly one year ago - on Aug. 30 of last season - San Francisco was five games behind West-leading San Diego, but the Giants overcame that deficit to win the division en route to a World Series championship.

"At this time last year we were in a similar spot but we were gaining ground, not going backward," Lincecum said. "Right now it's obviously frustrating for everybody. It's one of those situations where it's hard to keep your head up when things aren't really going our way."

To overtake Arizona this year, San Francisco almost certainly needs its offense to show some signs of life.

RELATED: MLB Standings

The Giants are last in the NL in runs at 454 and batting average at .237, and they've been even worse lately, plating 10 runs while hitting .184 in the last six games.

All-Star Pablo Sandoval is 2 for 16 in that stretch, while Cody Ross is 0 for 10 with five strikeouts in his last four games.

Carlos Beltran posted three straight two-hit games before Monday, but he went 0 for 4 and has four RBIs in 18 games with the Giants.

They hope for better luck against Matt Garza (6-10, 3.68 ERA), who'll be facing San Francisco for the first time.

Garza permitted six runs - three earned - and eight hits in five innings of Thursday's 8-3 loss to Atlanta after recording a 1.80 ERA in his previous four outings.

Although the Giants' offense has struggled, pitching in San Francisco could give Garza problems. The right-hander has a 5.07 road ERA, compared to a 2.76 ERA at home.

Ryan Vogelsong (10-4, 2.54) should benefit from pitching at AT&T Park, where he has a 1.98 ERA - the majors' fourth-best home ERA.

Vogelsong, however, gave up three runs, six hits and four walks in 7 1-3 innings of Thursday's 3-1 home defeat to Houston, losing his second straight start - both to the Astros.

The right-hander is enjoying quite a renaissance with the Giants, but has already amassed a career-high 142 innings and seems to be slowing down a bit. After going 9-1 with a 2.19 ERA in his first 20 outings, Vogelsong is 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA in his last four, although the Giants have scored only one total run in those three defeats.

Vogelsong has been backed by 15 total runs in winning his two starts against the Cubs this year while posting a 2.45 ERA.

Chicago snapped a four-game losing streak Monday and won for the second time in nine games. Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Blake DeWitt and Carlos Pena all went deep for the Cubs, who lead the NL with 38 homers this month.

Will Brandon Belt return this season for Giants after yet another concussion?

Will Brandon Belt return this season for Giants after yet another concussion?

SAN FRANCISCO — It has been nearly two weeks since Brandon Belt walked out of AT&T Park with yet another concussion. On Friday he could take a big step. 

Belt will do some light cardio in hopes of ramping up the rehab process. That is generally the biggest step for concussed players. Often times, that cardio session leads to a longer shutdown when the player feels discomfort from activity. The Giants are hopeful that Belt will report only positive signs. 

“He seems to be doing a little better,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

There is no timetable for Belt’s return, but the club hopes to get him back in the heart of the lineup down the stretch. That leads to an obvious question: Why would the Giants play him? Belt has suffered four concussions in the last eight years and he is a member of a last-place team that’s in a fight for the first pick in the draft. Doesn’t it make sense to just shut him down, make sure he gets fully healthy, and prepare for 2018? 

“I know there’s talk about it, but I know for Brandon, he would like to get back,” Bochy said. “You hate to go into the offseason with six or seven weeks of not playing again, but at the same time we’ll make sure he’s completely recovered. If not, we won’t put him out there.”

Part of the shame of all this is that regardless of when Belt returns, he will have missed an opportunity to really put his stamp on a nice season. Belt leads all first baseman in defensive runs saved (12) and he would have had a very strong argument for his first Gold Glove Award. It’s possible he gets back in time to hold off Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo. It’s also possible he gets back in time to shatter his career-high in homers. Belt is at 18 for the second time in three years, and before he went down he was on pace for about 30. The Giants will have a better idea of Belt's ability to return on Friday. 

As for the other concussed Giant, there was less information about Joe Panik. He will be reevaluated on Friday. 

Raiders' Sean Smith charged with assault


Raiders' Sean Smith charged with assault

Raiders cornerback Sean Smith has been charged with assault, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.

The charge is for assault of his sister's boyfriend in Smith's hometown of Pasadena. Smith allegedly beat and stomped the boyfriend's head on the morning of July 4, 2017 in Old Town Pasadena, the district attorney said.

Smith faces formal felony counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury to the victim.

The 30-year old plans to fight the charges levied against him. 

"Sean maintains his innocence at this time," Smith's attorney, Daniel Rosenberg told NBC Sports Calforinia on Thursday evening. "We are going to be entering a plea of not guilty and fighting these charges."

A warrant was filed on Aug. 16. Smith's arriagnment is scheduled for Sept. 29. 

If convicted as charged, Smith could face a maximum sentence of seven years in California prison. 

A Raiders spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The case is still under investigation by the Pasadena Police Department. 

This is another blow in a rough summer for Smith. He has struggled on the practice field during training camp and faces an off-field legal issue. Smith is guaranteed $9.5 million for the 2017 season. 

More to come.