Warriors

Battery leads Giants to 5-1 victory over Twins

491040.jpg

Battery leads Giants to 5-1 victory over Twins

June 22, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Ryan Vogelsong was just hoping to earn a spot with a major league club the last five seasons.Now he's close to making another team: The National League All-Stars.Vogelsong added another gem to his storybook season, helping the San Francisco Giants end a five-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.A little-known righty this spring, the only All-Star team Vogelsong could ever recall making was in Little League and joked that it was "by default." Giants manager Bruce Bochy will head the NL team for the defending World Series champions and pick some of the reserves, so Vogelsong's chances are looking sharp."This guy's done everything he could to go there at this point," Bochy said.
URBAN: Vogelsong redefining 'quality start'
Vogelsong (5-1) allowed three hits and one run in seven innings in the latest stellar outing for the journeyman turned ace. He would lead the majors with a 1.86 ERA if he qualified with enough innings pitched, which he could do with his next start.Vogelsong went almost five years between major league victories, bouncing from the minors to Japan and back. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and was called up when Barry Zito was injured in April.All he has done since has been spectacular."To be on the All-Star team at the major league level has never been anywhere close to a chance for me," Vogelsong said. "It would be amazing."San Francisco's struggling offense finally came alive.Eli Whiteside had a triple, single and three RBIs to hand Nick Blackburn (6-5) his first loss in almost two months and end the Twins' eight-game winning streak. Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson combined to pitch two scoreless innings in relief, a night after Minnesota tied a major league record by starting the game with eight consecutive hits off Madison Bumgarner.But it was Vogelsong who finally quieted Minnesota's bats.
GIANTS INSIDER GALLERY: Vogelsong, Whiteside heroes
"He pretty much ate us up through most of the part of the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The guy was pretty nasty."Vogelsong retired the first 12 batters with ease - two soft flies to center were the only ones that left the infield. Michael Cuddyer ended the streak with a single leading off the fifth.There were plenty of distractions to shake Vogelsong's rhythm, too.A fan sitting along the left-field line took a foul ball in the stands away from Giants outfielder Cody Ross in the sixth inning. As Ross reached into the stands, the man put his glove in front of the outfielder and caught the fly by Casilla.The umpires didn't call interference, and the Twins were held scoreless in the inning. The man and a female companion were escorted to another section for their safety.Former Giants slugger and home run king Barry Bonds was sitting behind home plate for most of the game. Bonds received a standing ovation from those around his section when he left at the start of the seventh inning, taking pictures, smiling, and waving to the crowd - all things he did little of when he was a player.With all the commotion in his eyesight, Vogelsong allowed two singles to start the inning before he struck out Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes. Tsuyoshi Nishioka hit an RBI infield single that Crawford bobbled at shortstop, allowing Minnesota to trim the lead to 3-1."I just keep saying it's just mental," he said. "It's being able to focus and concentrate in situations when I couldn't before."NOTES: Romo limped off the mound at the end of the seventh, holding his right knee and grimacing but said he would be available to pitch Thursday. ... Zito will likely make his first start back when San Francisco plays a doubleheader at the Chicago Cubs next Tuesday. Zito, coming off a two-hit shutout for Triple-A Fresno, hasn't pitched in the majors since he sprained his right foot on April 16 fielding a bunt. ... Twins 1B Justin Morneau will have a cast removed from his left wrist on Friday. ... Twins closer Joe Nathan and DH Jim Thome are expected to rejoin the club in Milwaukee on Friday after finishing rehab stints.

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

durant-kerr-ap.jpg
AP

With lofty win total unlikely this year, here's a number the Warriors can chase

OAKLAND -- Getting to 73 wins is impossible for the Warriors, and the pursuit of it never entered their minds.

Reaching 69 wins, their average in three seasons under coach Steve Kerr, is highly improbable.

Even winning 67 games, the lowest total under Kerr, is extremely unlikely.

There is, however, a number the Warriors are aiming for that also happens to be within their grasp -- but only if they can fight through the regular-season malaise and break an unhealthy tendency.

They can get to 35 victories at Oracle Arena. Currently 16-6 at home, the Warriors would have to go 19-0 to reach 35, and it’s possible insofar as they are less than two years removed from posting an NBA-record 54 consecutive wins at home.

Can a team that once went 14 months without losing at Oracle summon a three-month stretch of perfection at home?

The schedule invites the possibility, but it’s still up to the Warriors and how they cope with tug of three long seasons and that tendency to float a bit in front of their home fans, two factors that have had more effect at home than on the road.

“In general, the appropriate fear we always talk about, it’s there on the road for most games and it’s not there as much at home,” Kerr conceded Monday.

Kevin Durant used different phrasing but echoed the comments of the coach.

“You tend to relax a bit when you’re at home because you’ve got your home crowd,” he acknowledged. “You’re just comfortable in that situation. You can go home and go to sleep in your own bed after the game. So you relax a bit.

“On the road, it just feels like this is the last game of your career. It just feels that way, especially when you’re playing a tough opponent and somewhere with a crowd that’s going to be really, really into it.”

Having gone 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over the last three seasons, the Warriors are assured of having their worst home record under Kerr. Still, 35 is not impossible.

The drop is not unanticipated, as Kerr experienced something similar as a member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when they won three straight championships as their regular-season wins steadily dropped, from 72 to 69 to 62.

“Where it has truly been the most tangible and palpable is home games against lesser opponents,” Kerr said. “We’ve lost six. Maybe two of those are playoff teams.

“We didn’t lose those games the last the last three years. We dominated the home floor. That’s where it really shows.”

The Warriors have lost at home to the Rockets, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers. Only Houston is a playoff lock. Detroit, Denver and the Clippers are on the fringe of the postseason race. Charlotte is a longshot, Sacramento a no-shot.

The Warriors, in every home loss, have started drowsily or played too carelessly or were self-destructive enough to give back a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.

“This is the first year in my four years where we’ve lost a lot of home games that we shouldn’t,” Kerr said. “That just points to emotional fatigue. Trying to get up for 82 games is a difficult thing, especially in Year 4 of a quest to get back to The Finals.”

Coming off a successful road trip during which they won four of five games, the Warriors this week face the Knicks, Timberwolves and Celtics -- the latter two being playoff locks.

A home sweep is difficult, of course, but hardly inconceivable. And if the Warriors can pull that off, they’d have only four remaining home games against teams fighting for a top-four playoff slot: the Thunder and Spurs twice each.

Oklahoma City appears to be getting their act together. The Spurs, while still formidable, are starting to look like a team in decline.

They’re also the two teams most likely to get the full attention of the Warriors, who began the week by sitting through video of their last three games, during which they committed numerous hideous errors.

The message: Their unforced mistakes are the surest route to defeat.

“There are key points of the year where we have to hit the reset button in terms of our priorities,” Kerr said. “Right now is one of those times. This is an important week for us. We need to take care of the ball. We need to be smart and make good decisions. If we do that, we’re really, really hard to beat.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

chucky-ap.jpg
AP

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”