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


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


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.

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected defensive linemen with their top picks in the final two drafts under general manager Trent Baalke.

The 49ers fired Baalke at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season, and new general manager John Lynch stepped into a tear-down project.

That complete rebuild began Thursday evening with Lynch’s selection of another defensive lineman. The 49ers traded back one spot and selected Solomon Thomas of Stanford with the No. 3 overall pick.

“We see a special football player, disruptive football player, who has tremendous versatility,” Lynch said. “I think he fits in with the current group that we have because he’s a little different than the guys we have. And when I think of Solomon, I think of speed and quickness and disruption.”

The 49ers expect to play more of an aggressive, attacking style of defense under first-year coordinator Robert Saleh. Perhaps, the team’s biggest need is at the “Leo” position, the weak side end that is considered more of a pass-rusher.

Thomas appears better-suited at the other end or at a defensive tackle position, but the 49ers are keeping an open mind about using him at nearly every spot along the defensive line in the team’s new 4-3 scheme.

“There are four defensive linemen and what’s intriguing about Solomon is he has the ability to play all four of them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s what makes him so unique. That’s why I think John says he’s a little bit different than some of the guys we have, because you can move him around. He has the quickness and speed to play on the outside. He has enough sides to play on the inside, so you don’t want to put him in one spot.

“We don’t think he has to be one specific role. Obviously, he is a defensive lineman, but there’s four spots he can play at and I think that’s going to depend on down and distance, whether we’re expecting run, whether we’re expecting pass and the type of personnel we’re going against.”

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.