Giants eye series win behind healthy Lincecum


Giants eye series win behind healthy Lincecum

July 28, 2011

GIANTS (60-44) vs.

Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants are getting the offensive help that could significantly increase their chances of successfully defending their World Series title.

Six-time All-Star Carlos Beltran could be in the Giants' lineup Thursday night for the decisive series finale against the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The NL West-leading Giants (60-44) acquired the slugger from the New York Mets after Beltran approved the trade Wednesday. San Francisco is expected to send prized pitching prospect Zachary Wheeler to New York in return. Beltran is in the final year of a 119 million deal he signed with the Mets before the 2005 season. The Mets reportedly will pay as much as 4 million of the 6.5 million left on his contract.

"Having a guy like Beltran, obviously, adds a lot of positive energy," said All-Star Brian Wilson, who recorded his major league-leading 32nd save in Wednesday's 2-1 win over Philadelphia.

Beltran is batting .289 with 15 homers, 66 RBIs and a .513 slugging percentage, and he leads the NL with 30 doubles. He would certainly help the Giants, who rank near the bottom of the majors with a .241 batting average and 66 home runs.

"Our offense has been inconsistent and we need some help," manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants' official website. "There was a little sense of urgency to see if we could do something to help this offense get going.

"Carlos has all the tools that you look for in a player."

Though he is batting .337 with five homers and 22 RBIs his last 24 games, Beltran has hit .200 (4 for 20) with three RBIs at Citizens Bank Park this season.

The Giants hope Beltran's presence will help them catch the Phillies (65-38), who own the best record in the majors. Without him, Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz each drove in runs and Matt Cain pitched seven solid innings after Tim Lincecum was scratched from his scheduled start because of an illness.

RELATED: Giants to start Lincecum tonight against Phillies

Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA) is strong enough to pitch Thursday. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 2-1 with a 3.17 ERA in seven regular-season outings against the Phillies. He went 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts versus Philadelphia in the 2010 NL championship series before pitching in relief in the pennant-clinching win Oct. 23.

Dominic Brown drove in the lone run and had one of the four hits Wednesday for the Phillies, who have dropped two of three after winning five in a row.

"Any time you play the Giants with that pitching, it figures to be low scoring," Wednesday's loser Cole Hamels said.

Scheduled Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.45 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA his last three starts - all Philadelphia wins. He allowed three runs on a pair of homers in 5 2-3 innings and did not factor in an 8-6 win over San Diego on Saturday.

In the right-hander's only previous start versus San Francisco on May 2, 2008, Kendrick gave up three runs in six innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win.

Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots


Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the Patriots

MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:

1. So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.

That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.

“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”

The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.

Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders. With their inconsistency and mistake-prone play, they can lose to anyone.

Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.

“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”

2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot

The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.

Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.

That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.

“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.

The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.

It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.

3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going Beast Mode

Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.

He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.

The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.

“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”

The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.

Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.

Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad


Del Rio calls out NFL for Raiders losing home games to go abroad

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.

You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.

“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”

Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.

The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.

It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.

The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.

“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”

This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.

It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.

“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”