Giants Insider notes: Cain on his game


Giants Insider notes: Cain on his game

May 18, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 8-5 victory over the host Dodgers on Wednesday night in the opener of a two-game series at Chavez Ravine.Cain on his game: San Francisco right-hander Matt Cain extended his streak of consecutive scoreless innings against the Dodgers to 20 by starting the game with four perfect innings before Matt Kemp led off the fifth with a solo homer. It appeared to rattle Cain's cage a bit; he walked Juan Uribe, hit James Loney with a pitch and walked Jay Gibbons to load the bases with nobody out. What followed, though, was Cain's most impressive pitching of the night. After retiring Rod Barajas on an infield popup, he got pinch hitter Juan Castro on a fly ball that wasn't deep enough to tempt Uribe into testing center fielder Aaron Rowand's arm, and the threat of a big inning died when Cain coaxed a groundout to second from Jamey Carroll.
RECAP: Ross' blast lifts Giants to 8-5 win over Dodgers
Slaying the dragon: Los Angeles lefty Clayton Kershaw brought an even longer streak of consecutive scoreless innings against his team's top rival into the contest, having shut out the Giants over 23 23. He extended the streak by retiring the first eight batters of the game, but Cain singled with two out in the third, moved to third base on a single by Rowand and scored on a single by Freddy Sanchez. The Giants continued to pepper the Dodgers' ace in the fourth, getting consecutive singles from Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff and Miguel Tejada to open the inning before pinch hitter Mike Fontenot, stepping in for injured Mark DeRosa, drew a bases-loaded walk. A sacrifice fly by Rowand capped the rally, and Kershaw was gone after five innings.The daily shuffle: A night after going 0-for-5, Andres Torres took a seat in favor of Rowand despite Rowand's career .091 (1-for-11) batting average against Kershaw, and Sanchez was back at second base after spending Tuesday night in Colorado resting his swollen left knee. Rowand contributed to both rallies and Sanchez's single opened the scoring, once again making manager Bruce Bochy look like he has some sort of crystal ball hidden inside that massive lid of his.Nice approach: The prudent approach for right-handed hitters against a tough lefty such as Kershaw is to look to hit the ball up the middle or to the opposite field. While helping to put together a stretch of seven singles in eight at-bats bridging the third and fourth inning, Cain, Rowand, Sanchez and Burrell went to right field, and Ross went up the middle.DeRosa done?: Still hoping to help DeRosa snap out of his deep offensive funk, Bochy gave him his third consecutive start at third base. It's now unclear if DeRosa will ever again make a start in a Giants uniform, because he left the game in the fourth inning with what the team called a left wrist strain. The wrist has been an issue for DeRosa ever since he signed a two-year, 12 million deal as a free agent before the 2010 season. Before leaving the game in obvious pain after a barely perceptible checked swing, DeRosa saw his streak of hitless at-bats reach 19 since coming off the DL earlier this month -- he was on it with wrist inflammation -- and he's 0-for-23 overall since going 2-for-3 at Arizona on April 16.
NEWS: Giants' DeRosa headed for DL with wrist strain
Tejada tacks on: The Dodgers cut into the Giants' lead with a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Tejada, who was nothing short of brutal for much of the season's first five week but has been showing signs of life of late both at the plate and on defense, got the run back with a two-out single in the top of the eighth. It was the team's 10th hit of the night, all of them singles, and the first nine of them came from nine different players.Right back to him: Bochy is beloved by his players in part because he shows a ton of faith in them after they've had a particularly tough game. That was in evidence -- and paid off -- Wednesday when he turned to Javier Lopez, who had struggled during an ugly 16-pitch outing in relief of Jonathan Sanchez at Colorado on Tuesday. With dangerous Andre Ethier at the plate and a runner on with one out in the eighth, Lopez came on for the lefty-on-lefty situation in which he typically excels and froze Ethier with a called third strike on a 2-2 pitch for what, at the time, appeared to be one of the biggest outs of the game.Cain's pain: Sergio Romo took over for Lopez after Ethier struck out and was greeted with a single by Kemp, prompting Bochy to bring on closer Brian Wilson for what would have been his first four-out save of the season. Wilson, however, gave up a two-run double to Uribe before Loney bounced an RBI single between second baseman Sanchez and first baseman Huff, who looked like he could have flagged it down but instead opted to head for first base, perhaps thinking Sanchez had a bead on the ball. Thus, Cain was charged with three runs for his 7 13 innings of three-hit work with three walks and seven strikeouts, and what should have been his fourth victory ended up being his fourth no-decision.Torture: Cody Ross. Three-run homer with two out in the ninth. Got heeeeeem!

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal


Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal


PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.


California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.


California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots


Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”