World Series Setback -- Giants Stumble, Fall 4-2


World Series Setback -- Giants Stumble, Fall 4-2

Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If anyone even loosely associated or familiar with the 2010 Giants thought this was going to be easy, they might be lying about that association or familiarity.Sweep the World Series?Please. Thats not how this team rolls.They prefer to wring just about every drop of drama out of everything, and the Fall Classic is no exception.So of course the Rangers won Game 3 on Saturday, changing entirely the complexion of a matchup that looked so lopsided in San Francisco. Texas 4-2 victory, which featured the Rangers first home run of the series and some stingy work by former As mopup man Colby Lewis, gave the Lone Star State exactly what it was looking for when their favorite sons -- for now -- returned home in a 2-0 hole.There is hope for the Rangers. A win in Game 4 ties the series, and Game 5 is here Monday.Youknow, obviously were still down one game, but the momentum has shifted,said Ranger center fielder Josh Hamilton, who thrilled the crowd of morethan 52,000 with one of the games four homers. I mean, were at home, weve got the fans behind us. Wereright where we want to be.As for the Giants, even in defeat they struck a confident chord, claiming to be pretty comfortable with their status."We're still in the driver's seat," said outfielder Cody Ross, who continued to treat October as his national coming-out party. "We knew this was going to be a dogfight, and it is, but we have two wins and they have one."
Texas has one win now because they got far better work from their starting pitcher Saturday. Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez once again came up less than large on the road, and the offense that pounded out 20 runs in Games 1 and 2 was essentially pounded into paste by Lewis, who pounded the strike zone early and often.The Rangers homered in every one of their games in the first two rounds of the postseason, but were kept in the yard at AT&T Park. Ron Washington's club finally got a little light jogging in while grabbing an early lead.Nelson Cruz got things going with a line drive to center on Sanchezs first pitch of the second inning. It got to the wall and hit it so hard that Andres Torres likely would have nailed him at second base with a good throw, but a good throw it was not. It was a rainbow, and Cruz had himself a leadoff double.Cruz made it to third before Bengie Molina stepped to the plate with two out. Sanchez wanted nothing to do with his former teammate with lefty-swinging rookie Mitch Moreland on deck. Molina walked on five pitches.Moreland spoiled the strategy, though, by putting together a brilliant at-bat that ended with him driving Sanchezs ninth pitch of the at bat into the right-field bleachers for a 3-0 lead.
"Give the guy credit," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Moreland fouled off some tough offspeed pitches and just battled until he got something to hit."
Moreland, by the way, had to fight the suggestion he take up pitching in the minors. He started this season as the No. 3 first baseman on Texas depth chart. The Rangers thought so little of his stretch-drive potential that they openly looked into a midseason trade for Lance Berkman.And seriously? Can you blame them? Prior to his homer off Sanchez, Moreland was batting .179 (5-for-28) with zero fun balls against southpaws in his abbreviated career."Mitch is stubborn," Hamilton said. "He's not going to let anybody beat him. He's got that competitive attitude about him."
Lewis story isnt all that dissimilar from Moreland's, in terms of seemingly emerging out of the ether as a playoff hero. Lewis flamed out with the Rangers in his first go-round, and eventually found himself working as an innings-eater in lopsided games for the As in 2007. Thereafter, it was off to Japan for two seasons before his reunion with the Rangers, and a productive reunion its been. He's 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts this fall."It's an unbelievable feeling," Lewis said. "I get goosebumps thinking about it."
Lewis ripped through a perfect shutdown inning after Morelands long ball. He was equally efficient over the next two frames, retiring six of seven along the way. His stellar work was rewarded when the lead went to 4-0 on Hamilton's fifth-inning home run.Hamilton, a top American League MVP candidate, jumped on a truly awful 2-1 slider from Sanchez, delivering a souvenir for a fan in the aptly named Home Run Porch section in right."We try to entertain folks," Hamilton said with a smile.
That was it for Sanchez -- yanked with a line of four runs on six hits and three walks over 4 23 innings. In his past three playoffs starts, all on the road, hes allowed eight runs on 14 hits and eight walks over 12 23 innings. The sum: an 0-2 record and a 5.84 ERA.Still, Bochy tried to put a happy face on his No. 3 starter's struggles."Sanchez was a pitch away from a pretty good outing there," Bochy said of the pitch to Moreland. "He settled in after that and was throwing the ball better."
The Giants got one run back in the top of the seventh, mainly because Ross simply doesnt go an entire playoff game without doing something that makes you slap your forehead and say, again, Youve gotta be kidding me.No kidding on a full count fastball for Ross, who blasted it into the seats in left-center for his fifth home run of the fall."It's great, but it's always better in a win," Ross said.
Ross cant do it alone, though, so Torres decided to lend a hand, belting a home run to right with one out in the eighth, cutting the Texas lead to two. With two out, Lewis hit Aubrey Huff with a pitch, ending his evening after 7 23 innings of five-hit work with two walks and six strikeouts.With Buster Posey at the plate representing the tying run, Washington turned to right-handed submariner Darren ODay. Posey worked the count full, which prompted a meeting at the mound with Molina to discuss the 3-2 pitch. The meeting paid off as O'Day coaxed a weak ground ball to shortstop, setting up closer Neftali Feliz for his perfect ninth.
"He made a pretty good pitch," Bochy said of O'Day. "We had a good hitter up there, and it was a good battle."
Sanchez, it should be noted, was routinely topping out at 89-90 on the stadium radar gun. He typically sits between 92-94, and hes thrown 50 innings more this year than his previous career high, so dont be surprised if the Giants decide to make a mystery of their pitching plans should a Game 7 be required. Dont think they arent already giving a potential Game 7 a little thought at this point, either.
"We're playing a very good club," Bochy said. "We didn't think this was going to be easy."
In fact, everything from here on out is likely going to be hard.

Steve Kerr keeping offseason routine in line: 'I'm not Jon Gruden'


Steve Kerr keeping offseason routine in line: 'I'm not Jon Gruden'

For the third straight summer, Steve Kerr has had a shortened offseason to work with.

While he is working on things for the 2017-18 season, he's not trying to cram as much work into a short period of time. He's taking time to relax and enjoy the summer.

In an interview with The Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Saturday, Kerr pulled back the curtain on how's spending the time before training camp starts.

“I’m on the phone, talking to Bob Myers, talking to our coaches and to different people. Writing down thoughts, putting together plans for our coaching retreat. It might be just something that pops into my head, where I just stop and write something down. But I’m not Jon Gruden, I’m not waking up at five in the morning and going to the film room,” Kerr said.

What could Kerr and Myers possibly talk about every single day?

“We talk about players, talk about roles. We talked a lot about Nick Young and [Omri] Casspi before we signed those guys. Talked a lot about our center position. Bob and I talk every day, kind of the first thing in the morning we check in with each other, usually talk for a half hour. We’re really close. He just got back from a great vacation, in Italy,” Kerr said.

Kerr and the defending champion Warriors get back on the court Sept. 30 in a preseason tilt against the Nuggets in Oakland. Then they head to China to play the Timberwolves twice before returning to face the Kings at home on Oct. 13. Four days later, they raise a banner, get their rings and tip-off the regular season against the Rockets.

Bochy updates status of Belt, Panik in concussion recoveries

Bochy updates status of Belt, Panik in concussion recoveries

The Giants' right side of the infield is currently on the shelf due to each dealing with a concussion. Joe Panik, who sustained his concussion more rently than Brandon Belt, is far ahead in a return date to the Giants. 

Panik ran sprints at AT&T Park on Sunday. He also took 50 swings between working off a tee and soft toss from a coach. The second baseman says if he feels well enough, he will take batting practice on the field Monday. 

"I’m not dealing with any balance issues," Panik said to the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. "I hope to pick up where I left off."

Panik has been out since Aug. 13. When trying to score a run on the road against the Nationals, a throw struck him near his temple while sliding into home plate. He still stayed in the game. 

Last season, Panik missed time with a concussion after being hit in the head by then-Rays pitcher Matt Moore.

Belt is in a different stage than Panik. He is limited to work in the gym and light cardio for now. 

"With Belt, the best way I can describe it is, he's doing OK," manager Bruce Bochy said before Sunday's game. "He's doing cardio up to the point he needs to stop. He's not at a stage where he can push it right now."

Belt now has four career concussions between college and the pros. After taking a pitch to the head against D'backs rookie Anthony Banda, Belt immediately went down and has been out since that game on Aug. 4. 

Bochy expects Panik back soon, but not before the Giants' homestand ends on Wednesday. Belt's retun to the field this season is still in question.