Warriors

Belt, Suppan lead split Giants squad to 7-2 win

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Belt, Suppan lead split Giants squad to 7-2 win

March 4, 2011BOXSCORE GIANTSVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Jeff Suppan is facing a whole new situation, and a couple of outings against one of his former teams have helped his case for a starting job with the San Francisco Giants.Suppan pitched three scoreless innings against Milwaukee for the second time this spring, and rookie Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer Friday to lead a split squad of Giants to a 7-2 victory over the Brewers."Suppan did a nice job," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said before traveling to nearby Glendale for the other split-squad game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "He had good control and was pumping that strike zone, throwing quality strikes."Suppan retired nine straight batters, allowing one hit - to Erick Almonte in the first - and striking out two in his first exhibition start. His previous appearance against the Brewers was in relief on Feb. 28.Suppan, who has a career record of 138-143, said this is the first time since early in his career with Boston that he has not been assured of a starting spot. He is competing for the No. 5 slot in the Giants' rotation.The 36-year-old right-hander worked a lot on his sinker on Friday."The movement was there, although I was underneath it," he said. "Location is the key. Some I thought were good, some not so good."Suppan agreed to a minor league deal with the World Series champion Giants in January. He went 3-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 15 starts and 30 appearances last season with Milwaukee and St. Louis.He had mixed emotions about facing the Brewers again."I was around those guys for four years and saw what they like to do, but do I really know how a guy like Prince Fielder is going to approach me?" he said. "You try to figure out a sequence and go with it."Fielder grounded out in his only at-bat against Suppan.Belt, projected as a future starting first baseman, hit his first homer of spring training in a five-run first, a drove off sidearming right-hander Tim Dillard. Belt also singled in the third."When you get your first hit, your first home run, it's a good experience," the 21-year-old Belt said. "The more at-bats I get, the more I'm around here, the more comfortable I get. Aubrey and some of the other veteran guys have been very good to me."Huff gave him a big endorsement."You keep hitting like this and you'll make the team," he said.Catcher George Kottaras hit a solo homer in the fifth for Milwaukee, and closer John Axford pitched one inning in his first appearance of the spring after struggling with food poisoning."I liked the way the ball came out of his hand," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was a little up in the zone, but I liked the way he threw."Roenicke, who worked in the Angels' organization the previous 11 years, will manage against his former team for the first time on Saturday."I don't know if it will be emotional, but it will be nice to see some of those guys," he said.NOTES: Giants closer Brian Wilson (back) appears to be on target to pitch for the first time on Sunday against Seattle. ... Bochy said RHP Matt Cain possibly will throw a side session on Saturday after missing Thursday's start with an inflamed right elbow. ... With reserve C Eli Whiteside slowed by a sore elbow, Chris Stewart has done a nice job filling in for San Francisco. The 6-foot-5 Stewart is 4 for 10 in six games, and he has displayed a strong arm and good baserunning instincts. He scored all the way from first base on Aaron Rowand's double in the sixth inning Friday.

What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

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What's caused Warriors' slow start and why it should come as no surprise

It’s much too early to get legitimately nervous, much less start tumbling into a panic.

The Warriors are going to be fine.

Eventually.

They most certainly are not yet what they will become in about two weeks, when they settle in for a four-game homestand that begins Nov. 6. That’s 10 games into the season, and it’s conceivable the Warriors might be 6-4.

After a 111-101 loss to the ever-tenacious Grizzlies on Saturday in Memphis, the Warriors are 1-2 and, by their lofty standard, looking about as lost as a stray cat in a hurricane.

“We’re obviously not ready. We knew that,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re not ready to put together a full effort. And I’m not doing a great job of putting together combinations, finding the right motivation to get guys going, to get some joy and laughter in here.

“It’s just one of those rough patches. And, hopefully, we can climb our way out of it. I’m sure we will. It may take some time.”

It will take some time, and of that there is plenty.

Do not blame this lull entirely on China, not when there is so much more. The Warriors are coming off their third consecutive prolonged season, this one followed by the training camp disruption caused by spending eight days in Oakland, eight days in China, followed by eight days in Oakland leading up to opening night.

It’s easy to see the timing is off on an offense that relies on precision. The spacing is off on an offense that requires room to operate. The energy is lacking on a defense that lapses into ordinary without its bedrock intensity. Both body and spirit appear less than peak.

“We’ve been playing hard,” Kevin Durant told reporters at FedEx Forum, “but I think we’ve got to take it up a level.

“We’ll be fine. It’s 79 more games left. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

Understand, a team that won an NBA-best 67 games last season and posted a league-record 16-1 postseason doesn’t lose it because opponents load up. When the Warriors are on their game, opponents don’t matter.

For now, though, there is an individual listlessness that results in collective slumber. Stephen Curry has gambled himself in foul trouble in both losses and was booted in Memphis. Andre Iguodala missed an entire game and Draymond Green missed the fourth quarter of the first loss, a game in which the Warriors gave up a 13-point lead over the final 12 minutes.

And Durant’s 4.6 blocks per game is impressive. It also happens to be offset by his 6.3 turnovers per game.

“That’s on me,” he said. “I’m turning the ball over at a high rate right now. I’m really pissed at myself about it. I’ve just got to hold on to the ball. Just make the correct pass. I think I’m just rushing. I just need to calm down, settle down, and that would ignite the whole team. But if I turn the ball over, that’s contagious.”

The Rockets turned 17 Warriors giveaways into 21 points. The Pelicans turned 14 into 20. The Grizzlies turned 17 into 24.

Asked what has to change, Klay Thompson went to exactly the right place, saying “probably our defensive intensity from the jump.”

That’s where it starts, at least on the court. Meanwhile, there is more video work, more group texts about details and the need for more time for their bodies and minds to become one.

“We’ll be better,” Durant said. “We’re still finding a groove with each other. We’re still getting back into shape as far as playing our game, the flow, just the reads off not calling plays. We’ve got to get used to that again.”

Thompson is, however, displaying a modicum of impatience.

“We’ll come out Monday and we’ll play a great game,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

He’s probably right. The Warriors will be playing at Dallas, against a Mavericks team that is built to be devoured by the powerful.

That might be a quick fix. But it won’t be the final fix. That is weeks away.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.