Kings

Giants beat A's on Huff's 10th-inning walk-off hit

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Giants beat A's on Huff's 10th-inning walk-off hit

May 20, 2011BOXSCORE VIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Aubrey Huff has been mired in a slump for most of the season, so it was only fitting he was at the plate at the biggest moment Friday night for the San Francisco Giants.For the defending World Series champions, key hits always seem to come from the most unlikely sources.Huff hit a game-ending single in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving the Giants a 2-1 victory over the cross-bay rival Oakland Athletics in thrilling fashion."That's what this team does - guys come through in the clutch," Huff said.Huff's line drive to right-center off Brian Fuentes (1-5) scored Emmanuel Burriss from second, sealing the NL West-leading Giants' third straight win. They also had a trio of spectacular defensive plays from Freddy Sanchez, Nate Schierholtz and Huff to hand Oakland its third consecutive loss.
URBAN: Battle of the bullpens
Burriss led off the 10th with a single and Andres Torres' sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Oakland intentionally walked Sanchez, setting the stage for San Francisco's sixth walk-off victory this season.Javier Lopez (2-0) pitched a perfect inning for the win. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong matched Oakland ace Trevor Cahill, who yielded just one hit in six innings, before the two stingy bullpens pitched scoreless ball into extra innings.In the end, it was San Francisco that pulled out another tight game."A lot of people say they've been there and done that. We literally have," Burriss said. "Once you do it as much as this team has, it comes a little bit easier."Runs were at a premium in the latest edition of the Bay Area series.
GUTIERREZ: The haunting Disabled List
Torres drew a leadoff walk in the first inning, stole second and went to third after catcher Kurt Suzuki tossed the ball into center field for an error. Sanchez grounded out to second to score Torres, giving San Francisco a 1-0 lead before some fans had even settled into their seats.Oakland tried to answer with a hit-and-run play in the second, with Josh Willingham attempting to go from first to third on a single to right by Mark Ellis. Schierholtz picked up the ball and zipped a throw to third that was scooped out of the dirt by Miguel Tejada, who tagged Willingham."Every play in a game like that is magnified," A's manager Bob Geren said. "You have to take advantage of every opportunity you can, especially in a pretty good pitcher's park."The A's loaded the bases in the fourth after Huff's throw from first pulled shortstop Mike Fontenot off the bag at second. Vogelsong got Cahill to ground into a double play, scoring Ellis from third to even the score at 1-all. Coco Crisp then grounded out to second.
VIDEO: Emmanuel Burriss postgame
Vogelsong left after six innings, allowing only the one unearned run and four hits. The Giants have won all five starts he has made this season.The A's caught a huge break in the seventh when Ellis took third base on a blown call by plate umpire John Tumpane. Replays showed Cliff Pennington foul tipped the pitch from reliever Ramon Ramirez, but Tumpane ruled he swung through it and allowed Ellis to move up.Giants catcher Buster Posey was livid, screaming at Tumpane in protest until manager Bruce Bochy came out to argue the call. But it never cost San Francisco - Pennington popped out and second baseman Sanchez made a diving snag to throw out pinch-hitter Conor Jackson."One of the best ones I've ever seen," Vogelsong said. "I feel like I've played behind great defense all season."
VIDEO: Aubrey Huff postgame
NOTES: Ellis notched his 1,000th career hit with a single in the second. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for Minnesota Twins slugger and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who died Tuesday at 74 after battling esophageal cancer. ... Giants INF Mark DeRosa said he has a partial tear of a tendon in his left wrist and is scheduled to see a doctor next week. ... The Athletics will likely call up LHP Trevor Outman and RHP Guillermo Moscoso on Monday to fill the void at the back end of the rotation after Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross were put on the disabled list. ... Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval is on schedule to return from right wrist surgery in two or three weeks, Bochy said. Sandoval will go on a minor league rehab assignment before he comes back.

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

The time has come. After losing five straight and 10 of their last 12 games, the Sacramento Kings sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 13-30. With playoffs well out of reach, the team is making an organizational decision to go young.

You could say that the Kings made this decision last February when they dealt DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. You could also point to draft day 2017 when the team traded down and turned the 10th overall selection into picks 15 and 20, giving the team three first round selections, an early second rounder and rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic coming from overseas.

Sacramento walked into the 2017-18 campaign with ten players on rookie scale deals, including nine first round selections with two years of NBA experience or less.

After a rocky first half, the team is going to a complete youth movement. The plan is for the veteran core of George Hill, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to rotate in and out of the lineup over the final 40 games of the season. 

Both management and the coaching staff is on the same page with the decision, NBC Sports California has confirmed. Two or three players will sit each night as they team explores what they have in youngsters.

"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season. I've got it laid out...I've got about five or six games laid out, and every week I'll go out again because you want to communicate with those guys when they're not going to play. Other guys, they've got to be ready. If you're in the first three years of your contract, you can expect to play a little, or a lot, or none, but you should be ready to play," Joerger told the media after the Kings' loss to the Thunder on Monday night.

Developing young players was the top priority coming into the season. With the team struggling, the franchise's decision to speed up the transition from veterans to inexperienced players comes as no surprise.

Prized first round selection De’Aaron Fox has already 22 of 35 appearances for the Kings and is settling into the starting point guard position. Since returning from injury, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky is posting 14.3 points and 6.7 assists over 32.5 minutes per game.

Despite early season struggles with consistency, the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft is improving. With the ideological shift in direction by the franchise, it is now Fox’s show, but he’s not the only one expected to produce.

Willie Cauley-Stein has taken a huge leap forward in his third season with the team as well. After struggles in his first two years in the league, Cauley-Stein is averaging career-highs in points (12.0), rebounds (6.5), assists (2.2), steals (.9), blocks (.8) and minutes played (26.2).

With his confidence at an all-time high, Cauley-Stein is going to be asked to do even more with a reduction of minutes by Zach Randolph. The lanky 7-footer will have an opportunity to prove he is a go-to weapon in the final 40 games of the season.

The Kings have a pair of wings that appear ready to excel in Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

Bogdanovic has made tremendous strides through his first few months in the league and he’s clearly ready for a bigger role. The presence of Hill and Temple has forced Bogdanovic to play out of position at the small forward position.

The 25-year-old Serbian has already seen a surge in minutes and production during the month of January. Bogdanovic has scored in double-figures all six games this month and he’s averaging 15.3 points on 55 percent shooting from field and 50 percent from long range. He has a maturity to his game after spending years playing professionally in Europe and Joerger has relied heavily on him throughout the early season.

Hield has improved in year two, especially on the defensive end. He came out of Oklahoma as a pure scorer and hasn’t disappointed. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is shooting over 44 percent from 3-point range this season and showing a good feel for the game as a volume scorer off the bench.

The front office and coaching staff have an outline of what Fox, Cauley-Stein, Bogdanovic and Hield project as players, but there are plenty of other youngsters on the roster that the club needs more time to assess.

Skal Labissiere has fought his way out of a rough patch and is showing signs of improvement. His rebounding numbers have steadily jumped up and he’s figuring out how to defend stretch fours on the perimeter.

Before his injury, Frank Mason III was making strides as the team’s backup point guard. The second round pick is solid, but struggled with his shot before going down with a plantar fascia injury. He’ll be back in early February and should slide right back into the rotation.

Justin Jackson and Malachi Richardson have taken turns bouncing between the Kings and  the Reno Bighorns. Jackson has a maturity about him on the floor, but he’s been inconsistent with his shot and needs to get stronger.

After earning his way into the rotation last season, Richardson has struggled when given the opportunity this year. He’s worked tirelessly on his body and he’s a great practice 3-point shooter. He’s learning to play the 2, 3 and even some stretch four this season, which shows versatility, but he passes up too many open looks.

Lastly, the Kings have a complete unknown in 7-foot-2 center Georgios Papagiannis. Like Richardson, the giant out of Greece has worked hard to reinvent his body. He’s clearly quicker and more agile than he was in his rookie season, but at 20-years-old, he’s still considered a project.

It might be 10-15 games earlier than expected, but at some point this season, the Kings were going to throw their young players to the wolves and see how they fair. Sitting out games is a tough pill to swallow for veterans, but with just 13 wins through the first three months of the season, the writing has been on the wall for a while.

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

San Francisco’s second splash of its offseason reloading plan came to life Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pirates.

In trading for the five-time All-Star, the Giants held on to top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. The win-now move bolstered the Giants’ outfield — one that needed the most help in all of baseball — while the Pirates again have a potential big piece in their outfield with Bryan Reynolds headed to Pittsburgh. 

While the farm system took a win in keeping its biggest names, let’s look at what the Giants’ future lost with the addition of McCutchen. 

Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
The Giants clearly have their own prospect rankings. Baseball America (5) and MLB Pipeline (4) ranked Reynolds ahead of Steven Duggar, who is the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLB Pipeline, after the 2017 season. Duggar is expected to compete for the Giants’ starting job in center field unless they make another big move like signing Lorenzo Cain. 

There’s a reason Reynolds is ranked so high though. The Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is a switch-hitter who is primarily a center fielder, but like Duggar, he played all three outfield positions in 2017. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Nestor Rojas, Reynolds’ manager for the San Jose Giants, said to me in July. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

Reynolds slashed .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs at Advanced Single-A this past season. He was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game and named San Jose Giants MVP. Even if he never unlocks his power, Reynolds is expected to be a solid big leaguer one day with well-rounded overall tools. 

[READ: How Reynolds went from undrafted to Giants' top 2016 pick]

Kyle Crick, 25, RHP
Crick was expected to be a future ace when the Giants took him No. 49 overall as a high school pitcher back in 2011. Control issues hampered him mightily. 

Down in the minors, Crick flashed dominance on the hill at times with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. Still, command won the battle and the Giants turned Crick into a reliever. The move may have saved his career. 

As the Sacramento River Cats’ closer in Triple-A last season, Crick recorded six saves with a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. Crick earned his call-up to San Francisco and was solid for the Giants. He put together a 3.06 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen, giving a glimpse of what he can be in the future. 

Crick has always been full of potential. Now as a reliever, he’s starting to turn it into results at the highest level. The Pirates may have a future shut-down arm in the ‘pen, but in the Giants’ reload, there are plenty of in-house options that can do the job he was expected to do in 2018.