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The Giants are World Series champs again

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The Giants are World Series champs again

From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Smart pitching. Clutch hitting. Sharp fielding. Plus an MVP Panda.All the right elements for a sweet World Series sweep for the San Francisco Giants.Nearly knocked out in the playoffs time and time again, and finally pressed by the Detroit Tigers in Game 4, Pablo Sandoval and the Giants clinched their second title in three seasons Sunday night.Marco Scutaro -- who else? -- delivered one more key hit this October, a go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th inning that lifted the Giants to a 4-3 win."Detroit probably didn't know what it was in for," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "Our guys had a date with destiny."On a night of biting cold, stiff breezes and some rain, the Giants combined the most important elements of championship baseball. After three straight wins that looked relatively easy, they sealed this victory when Sergio Romo got Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to look at strike three for the final out."Tonight was a battle," Giants star Buster Posey said. "And I think tonight was a fitting way for us to end it because those guys played hard. They didn't stop, and it's an unbelievable feeling."Posey, the only player who was in the starting lineup when San Francisco beat Texas in the 2010 clincher, and the underdog Giants celebrated in the center of the diamond at Comerica Park.They built toward this party all month, winning six elimination games this postseason. In the clubhouse, they hoisted the trophy, passed it around and shouted the name of each player who held it."World Series champions!" Giants outfielder Hunter Pence hollered.A total team triumph."When pitching is your strength, you want a good defense," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That shows up every day. ... Hitting sometimes, it comes and goes. But as long as you can stay in more games, the better chance you have of winning them, and that's how we play."Benched during the 2010 Series, Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, went 8 for 16, including a three-homer performance in Game 1."You learn," Sandoval said. "You learn from everything that happened in your career. ... We're working hard to enjoy this moment right now."Cabrera delivered the first big hit for Detroit, interrupting San Francisco's run of dominant pitching with a two-run homer that blew over the right-field wall in the third.Posey put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer in the sixth and Delmon Young hit a tying home run in the bottom half.It then became a matchup of bullpens, and the Giants prevailed.Ryan Theriot led off the 10th with a single against Phil Coke, moved up on Brandon Crawford's sacrifice and scored on a shallow single by Scutaro, the MVP of the NL championship series. Center fielder Austin Jackson made a throw home, to no avail."That's what makes it so much special, the way we did it," Scutaro said. "We're always against the wall and my team, it just came through first series, second series and now we sweep the Tigers."Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th for his third save of the Series.The Giants finished the month with seven straight wins and their seventh Series championship. They handed the Tigers their seventh straight World Series loss dating to 2006."Obviously, there was no doubt about it. They swept us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "So there was certainly no bad breaks, no fluke."Simple, they did better than we did," he said. "It was freaky. I would have never guessed we would have swept the Yankees and I would have never guessed the Giants would have swept us."The Giants combined for a 1.42 ERA, outscored the Tigers 16-6 and held them to a .159 batting average."I think we never found our confidence at home plate," Cabrera said. "It was not the same game we played. We could not find our game in the World Series."Bristled slumping Tigers slugger Prince Fielder: "This is not about me. This is about the team."An NL team won the title for the third straight season, a run that hadn't occurred in 30 years. Some find the streak surprising, considering the AL's recent dominance in interleague play. Yet as every fan knows, the club that pitches best in the postseason usually prevails.Until the end, the Tigers thought one big hit could shift the momentum. It was an all-too-familiar October lament -- Texas felt the same way when the Giants throttled it in 2010, and the Tigers knew the feeling when St. Louis wiped them out in 2006."For one, we didn't allow doubt to ever creep in," Pence said. "You know, the thing that made this team so special is just playing as a team, caring for each other. We had our backs against the wall and we knew it wasn't going to be easy. It's not supposed to be."Howling winds made it feel much colder than the 44 degrees at gametime. Two wrappers blew across home plate after leadoff man Angel Pagan struck out, and fly balls played tricks in the breeze.The Giants started with their pregame ritual. They clustered around Pence in the dugout, quickly turning into a bobbing, whooping, pulsing pack, showering themselves with sunflower seeds. A big league good-luck charm, Little League style."That was one of our mottos, and we went out there to enjoy every minute of it and it was hard earned. Just an incredible, incredible group of guys that fought for each other," Pence said.Once again, San Francisco took an early lead. Pence hit a one-hop drive over the center-field fence for a double and Brandon Belt tripled on the next pitch for a 1-0 lead in the second.The next inning, Cabrera gave the Tigers a reason to think this might be their night.With two outs and a runner on first, Cabrera lofted an opposite-field fly to right -- off the bat, it looked like a routine out shy of the warning track. But with winds gusting over 25 mph, the ball kept carrying, Pence kept drifting toward the wall and the crowd kept getting louder.Just like that, it was gone.Cabrera's homer gave Detroit its first lead of the Series, ended its 20-inning scoreless streak and reaffirmed a pregame observation by Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline."The wind usually blows to right at this time of year," Kaline said.In the fourth, Max Scherzer and catcher Gerald Laird teamed on a strike em out-throw em out double play.Trailing for the first time since Game 4 of the NL championship series, Posey and the Giants put a dent in Detroit's optimism. Scutaro led off the sixth with a single and clapped all the way around the bases when Posey sent a shot that sailed just inside the left-field foul pole for a 3-2 lead.Detroit wasn't about to go quietly, however. Young, the ALCS MVP against the Yankees, made it 3-all with another opposite-field homer to right, this one a no-doubt drive.Fielder finished 1 for 14 (.071) against the Giants without an RBI. Minus key hits, the Tigers remained without a title since 1984.All 24 teams to take a 3-0 lead in the World Series have won it all. In fact, none of those matchups even reached a Game 6. This was the first sweep for an NL team since Cincinnati in 1990.Working on nine days' rest and trying to extend the Tigers' season, Scherzer kept them close into the seventh. Often recognized for his eyes -- one is light blue, the other is brown -- he's also known as a solid postseason pitcher.Ditto-plus for Matt Cain, who was working on a nearly perfect year.The Giants' ace threw a perfect game in June, was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game in July, beat Cincinnati to clinch the division series and topped St. Louis in Game 7 of the NL championship series.After they left, the relievers decided it.Octavio Dotel shouted, "Yeah! Let's go!" toward his dugout after striking out Posey to end the eighth. In the bottom half, winning pitcher Jeremy Affeldt got around a leadoff walk when he struck out Cabrera, a flinching Fielder and Young.Coke returned the favor in the top of the ninth, fanning the side. With Jose Valverde having lost his closer role during a shaky month, Coke stayed in for the 10th and faltered.The Giants became the first champion that hit the fewest home runs in the majors since St. Louis in 1982. Sandoval's three drives in Game 1 started San Francisco's romp, and its dominant pitching took over from there.The parade to a sweep masked the problems San Francisco overcame to get this far.Closer Brian Wilson pitched only two innings before an elbow injury ended his year. All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for a positive testosterone test, and not welcomed back when the ban ended. Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum struggled and wound up in the bullpen.Swept in a three-game set at Arizona to start the season, the Giants were floundering under .500 in mid-May. They soon hit their stride and, boosted by trade deadline deals for Scutaro and Pence, passed the Dodgers in the NL West for good in late August and posted 94 wins.Getting past Cincinnati and St. Louis in the playoffs presented challenges. Down 2-0 in the best-of-five division series, they rallied for three straight victories in Cincinnati. Trailing the defending champion Cardinals 3-1 in the NLCS, they again took three in a row to advance, clinching in a driving rainstorm.Six elimination games, six wins. Facing the Tigers, San Francisco proved it could play with a lead, too.The Giants became the first NL team since the Big Red Machine in the mid-1970s to win two titles in a three-year span. Shut out for 56 years -- Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds never won it all -- their self-described "misfits" captured that elusive crown in 2010.The Tigers' flop finished off a season in which Cabrera became baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967. Detroit overtook the White Sox in the final week to win the AL Central and wound up 88-74, the AL's seventh-best record.NOTES:Detroit 2B Omar Infante broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Santiago Casilla in the ninth. ... Theriot and Laird had a nice reunion at the plate. They were St. Louis teammates last year when the Cardinals won the title. ... Laird started after Alex Avila was scratched. Avila's right arm was still sore after being hit by a foul tip in the opener. ... Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was at the game. ... Cabrera has reached base in all 24 of his postseason games with Detroit. ... Only two of the last nine World Series have gone longer than five games.

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

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USATSI

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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USATSI

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

BOX SCORE

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.