Giants face rookie Lynn in finale vs. St. Louis


Giants face rookie Lynn in finale vs. St. Louis

June 2, 2011

GIANTS (30-25) vs.
ST. LOUIS (33-24)

Coverage begins at 4:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- In what's fast becoming an everyday occurrence, the St. Louis Cardinals are adding to a crowded injured list.

Having already lost pitcher Kyle McClellan, the Cardinals are expected to put slugger Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list before looking to split a four-game set with the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Holliday, who leads the NL with a .342 average, will be sidelined with a injured quadriceps. He returned from a week-long absence and went 1 for 4 in Monday's 7-3 loss to the Giants, but was a pinch-hitter in a 4-3 win Tuesday.

Allen Craig and Jon Jay should get the bulk of the playing time in left field during Holliday's absence. Craig is hitting .337 with four homers and 21 RBIs, while Jay is batting .342 with four homers and 14 RBIs.

Lance Berkman likely will bat fourth in place of Holliday despite an 0-for-12 slump that's dropped his average to .329.

McClellan, a converted reliever who's second on the Cardinals with six wins, was put on the DL Wednesday, two days after straining a hip flexor.

"At some point we were going to have to probably slow him down anyway, and this is just a nice opportunity to do that," general manager John Mozeliak said.

St. Louis also is without catcher Gerald Laird (finger) and infielder Nick Punto (arm). Ace Adam Wainwright is lost for the season after elbow surgery.

Lance Lynn will make his major league debut for the NL Central-leading Cardinals (33-24) in the finale. The right-hander was 5-3 with a 4.06 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Memphis and a 13-game winner last season for the Redbirds.

RELATED: Lynn to make MLB debut Thursday vs. Giants

San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez (3-3, 3.38 ERA) will be in search of his first win in three weeks. The left-hander is 0-1 with 2.70 ERA in three starts since beating Arizona on April 11.

Facing Milwaukee on Saturday, Sanchez allowed two runs and two hits with four walks over seven innings, but the Giants fell 3-2 on a suicide squeeze in the ninth.

Sanchez has had trouble locating the strike zone on the road, where he's issued 23 of his 34 walks.

He won his only career start against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, allowing two hits with four walks and five strikeouts in five scoreless innings of the Giants' 8-2 victory on April 20, 2008.

He failed to register a decision in his home debut against the Cardinals. Sanchez yielded one run and four hits over five innings as the Giants went on to a 5-4 win in 12 on April 8.

After the teams split the first two games, Nate Schierholtz made the difference in San Francisco's 7-5, 11-inning win Wednesday.

His RBI single with two outs in the ninth made it 5-all. With one out in the 11th, Schierholtz drove in Freddy Sanchez with the go-ahead run and later scored on rookie Brandon Crawford's single.

REWIND: Shierholtz the hero in Giants win over Cardinals

"His playing time has increased and it will now with the game he had and the way he's been playing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Schierholtz.

With two outs in the bottom of the inning, the game was delayed 16 minutes after two light standards failed. When play resumed, Brian Wilson needed one pitch to get Craig to ground out and notch his 15th save.

Schierholtz tied a season high with three hits, and Cody Ross had third four-hit game this season for the Giants.

Craig's two-run homer in the seventh inning off a struggling Tim Lincecum gave St. Louis a 5-4 lead. Jay struck out three times.

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.”