Giants Insider notebook: Speed kills


Giants Insider notebook: Speed kills

Goat to hero: Darren Ford, who failed to execute a bunt properly in the top of the 10th inning, turned his night around very quickly by scampering all the way to third base after a pick-off attempt went awry and then -- pulling a move straight out of the Little League playbook -- boldly dashing for home while Freddy Sanchez was grounding out with the infield in. Speed: You can't teach it and it kills.RECAP: Giants ride Ford's speed to 3-2 win over Pirates
"I know the game is on the line," Ford told Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper on the game broadcast. "I gotta go out there and use my speed and it worked out today."
This is not the first time Ford's speed has led to a Giants win. On Sept. 1, 2010 -- the day he was called up -- Ford entered a tie game against the Rockies as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run when he tried to steal third base, saw the throw sail into the outfield and made it all the way home.

Uncle Nasty: Pirates starter Charlie Morton gave the Giants fits all night, dominating with pinpoint command of a sinker that CSN Bay Area analyst Shawn Estes compared to that of Kevin Brown, who at one time was the top sinkerballer in the game. Morton, who flummoxed the Braves organization as a prospect with all the physical tools but much to be learned about the mental side, appears to have put it all together in the Steel City. He slipped a sinker under Buster Posey's bat for a tone-setting strikeout early in the game, and he went back to it over and over with great success.Cain was able: It was turn-back-the-clock time for Giants starter Matt Cain, and a pleasant trip to yesteryear it wasn't. Cain, formerly the poster boy for criminal lack of run support, spent the whole night working without a safety net. For a while it looked like Garret Jones' solo home run in the second inning on a hanging breaking ball was going to be all the Bucs needed, but Aubrey Huff's sixth-inning sacrifice fly locked things back up -- momentarily. Lyle Overbay's poke past third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the bottom of the frame put the Pirates back in front and again brought to the game the feeling that the Giants' only hope was to get Morton off the mound. Cain gave up four hits and a walk while striking out six over six strong innings.Chess match: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle appeared to do the Giants a favor when he lifted Morton with runners at first and second and nobody out in the seventh inning, but that's how much faith Hurdle has in his bullpen. At that point, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a huge decision to make: have Cody Ross bunt the runners over, or let him take his hacks against Pittsburgh right-hander Chris Resop. Bochy decided against it; no surprise there. Ross has home-run power, and Bochy isn't big on bunting in general. But it backfired, with Ross and struggling Miguel Tejada both popping out in foul ground, and pinch hitter Mike Fontenot struck out to end the promising threat.Big-time Buster: It's what he does. It's who he is. Just when the Giants looked ready to shoot themselves in the foot again, after Aubrey Huff popped out with runners at the corners and nobody out in the eighth, Buster Posey jumped on the first pitch he saw from Jose Veras and launched it high and deep to left field for the game-tying sacrifice fly that took Cain off the hook for the loss. Props to Freddy Sanchez, too, for executing a hit-and-run by shooting a single through the left side to allow pinch runner Darren Ford to glide from first to third ahead of Huff's at-bat.

Mario Edwards Jr joins Raiders in Florida


Mario Edwards Jr joins Raiders in Florida

SARASOTA, Fla. – Mario Edwards Jr. has joined the Raiders in Florida. Head coach Jack Del Rio inferred that would happen earlier this week, but the second-year defensive lineman was confirmed to be at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Thursday morning.

Edwards Jr. has been on injured reserve all season, and hasn’t practiced since suffering a hip injury in the preseason opener at Arizona. The Raiders plan to use their lone return designation to bring him back from injured reserve, but that hasn’t happened yet.

He needs to do side work before being cleared for practice. Edwards Jr. was not seen during open portions of Thursday’s practice, though he could be training away from prying eyes.

He was eligible to start practicing last week, but wasn’t quite ready. He is also eligible to play in a Week 9 game against Denver, though it’s highly unlikely he’d be ready for that return date. The Raiders have a bye scheduled after the Broncos game, giving him time to be ready to play Houston in a Week 11 affair at Mexico City.

“The whole situation with Mario is when he’s cleared, he’ll go,” head coach Jack Del Rio said on Wednesday. “Until then, he’s going to do stuff, whether it’s on the side or with the trainers and the doctors like all players that are in that designation where doctors have control. Once they have the green light, we’ll get him to work. Until then, he’ll work on the side.”

Rewind: Kings display depth in convincing season-opening victory

Rewind: Kings display depth in convincing season-opening victory

It’s just one game, but an outline is taking shape. The Sacramento Kings might be a newly assembled group with plenty of room to improve, but their 113-94 win over the Phoenix Suns in Wednesday night’s opener showed a quality lacking from previous seasons. This team is deep with NBA level talent and whether they win or lose, they look like a team that will give a fight night in and night out.

The Suns won just 23 games last season and they boast a roster with four teenagers and five total players under the legal drinking age. This isn’t a 67 win Spurs team like the Kings will face Thursday night at the Golden 1 Center, but they are still an NBA squad.

For most of the night, the Kings completely overmatched their young opponents on both ends of the floor. Sacramento took a 57-38 lead into the third quarter and looked like they might walk away with a huge blowout win to start the season. They pushed to lead to 26 multiple times, but then let off the gas.

“We didn’t stay consistent with what we’re doing to have the lead that we had, we broke down,” DeMarcus Cousins said following the game.

Phoenix made a run in the late third quarter and early fourth, cutting the Kings’ lead to 10 before Sacramento responded with a 12-1 run to put the game away.

“The funny thing about tonight, we had a spot that was kind of familiar from the past years, where we were up, but we let another team back in and gave them some energy and gave them some momentum going forward,” Cousins told CSN’s Kayte Christensen. “Usually it will turn into a game. But the difference this year is we poised ourself, shut the water off and got some stops”

The Kings didn’t play 48 minutes of quality basketball. They might not have even made it to the 36 minute plateau, but when they needed a big shot to break the Suns momentum someone stepped up. And when they needed a defensive stop, they had the ability to make one.

“We’re helping each other,” Rudy Gay said following the game. “That’s one of the things in camp that we wanted to make known - that we have to help each other, we have to be a team and play team defense and we did that today.”

It’s a mindset that head coach Dave Joerger has brought with him from his time in Memphis. It’s a grit and grind system that has proven to be very effective for the Kings’ new head coach.

“Defensively, when you get after people, 48 minutes is a long game to be locked and have that focus,” Joerger said. “When you just keep banging away at it and banging away at it, it becomes who you are.”

The Kings are working on the defensive identity that Joerger is preaching. It’s a work in progress, but one that has been missing from Sacramento for quite some time. While the starting unit looked a bit lost on the defensive end to start the game, they made adjustments to stop the Suns interior attack. They also held a quality perimeter shooting Phoenix team to just 4-of-16 from long range.

On the offensive end, Sacramento shared the ball as 11 of the 12 players that took the floor scored a basket and nine players scored six or more points.

“I think the biggest difference is everybody is part of the offense,” Gay said. “Obviously we have our guys who can go get buckets, but when everybody has the freedom to attack and be aggressive and know that there’s time when we get ours, but for the most part, they need to be aggressive too.”

Cousins led the way with 24 points on just 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and Gay added 22. Veterans Matt Barnes (14 points) and Garrett Temple (12 points) helped lead a bench unit that outscored the Suns second team 48-34.

The Kings will face a different beast Thursday night in their home opener. San Antonio is fresh off a drubbing of the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and have been in Sacramento awaiting the return of the home team. Back-to-backs are never easy, but this one feels especially cruel by the NBA schedule makers.