Giants Insider notes: Suddenly, a sunny road trip


Giants Insider notes: Suddenly, a sunny road trip

May 4, 2011

Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' 2-0 victory over the host Mets on Wednesday at Citi Field in New York.

Heavy load: Tim Lincecum was all over the map in the first inning, and it was evident from his very first pitch, which nearly sailed over catcher Buster Posey's head and to the backstop. Lincecum unleashed a carbon copy on his first pitch to No. 2 hitter Daniel Murphy, who ended up doubling on a full-count fastball at the belt and right over the heart of the plate. Struggling to find any semblance of command, Lincecum was wild within and outside the strike zone on the way to throwing 26 pitches in the inning, 13 of them balls and only three of them called strikes. He eventually stranded runners at first and second without allowing a run -- he is Tim Lincecum, after all -- but the early struggles made for a laborious night for the ace, who delivered his 100th pitch of the night while getting the first out of the sixth inning.

RECAP: History for Lincecum, victory for Giants in N.Y.
Again, he is Tim Lincecum: Despite the elevated pitch count, Lincecum managed to work his way through perhaps his most impressive outing of the season. The Mets had two runners on with one out in the fourth inning, but a flyout to shallow center field and strikeout No. 6 for the night left the runners where they were. Bigger still was his yeoman's effort in the sixth, when he rewarded manager Bruce Bochy's decision to let Lincecum hit for himself with a run in and the bases loaded in the top of the frame. After a leadoff double and a single put runners at the corners with nobody out, Freddy Sanchez made a terrific sliding catch in foul ground before Lincecum flat-out thugged Willie Harris and Jason Pridie with strikeouts No. 8 and No. 9 to escape with his shutout intact."Franchise," indeed: By opening the bottom of the seventh with his third consecutive punchout, Lincecum moved past Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson for the franchise lead in double-digit strikeout games. It was the 29th such game for the two-time Cy Young winner, in his 129th career start. It took Matthewson 551 starts to record 28. Oh, and just for kicks, or perhaps to further illustrate what a special evening it had been, Lincecum struck out the side in the seventh to finish with 12 strikeouts and a pitch count of 127. Think about it: five consecutive strikeouts on 27 pitches to end his night. Simply amazing.URBAN: Could Lincecum be best of all time?
Hot damn, Huff Daddy: A night after breaking out of his 1-for-the-road-trip funk with a game-winning homer in the 10th inning, Aubrey Huff reached on an infield single, doubled high off the wall in right-center field and scorched a single to right in his first three trips to the plate. The line-drive single moved Mike Fontenot into scoring position in the top of the sixth, setting up Pat Burrell's RBI single to center that snapped a scoreless tie.Speaking of Mighty Mike : Bochy gave Fontenot, a left-handed hitter, his second consecutive start in the No. 3 spot in the order against lefty Chris Capuano, and the unconventional move paid off as Fontenot, one of the team's hottest hitters of late, walked to start the sixth-inning rally and singled up the middle to score Aaron Rowand in the seventh for the game's second run.Suddenly sunny: When the Giants were blanked for the third time in six days on Monday in Washington, D.C., their record on the road trip fell to 3-4 -- and it actually felt a lot worse than that. With Wednesday's victory, however, the second series victory of the trip was secured and the roadie record was pushed to 5-4, guaranteeing that they'd achieve, at a minimum, every team's stated goal when leaving home: a .500 record. If they close out a sweep of the Mets on Thursday afternoon, the Giants will head back to the Bay Area with a highly satisfying and potentially tide-turning trip of which they should be incredibly proud.
Got heeem: With a ruthlessly efficient bottom of the ninth inning, which featured two quick strikeouts and a lazy popup to left field, closer Brian Wilson finally had that first outing of 2011 that reminded everyone of how good he was in 2010. Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo also chipped in on another clutch night by the Giants bullpen.

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

Without Green, Iguodala, fourth quarter turns into disaster for Warriors vs Rockets

OAKLAND -- The defending champion Warriors started cracking in the hours before tipoff Tuesday night and broke apart when they usually come together.

The fourth quarter was a disaster area and it cost the Warriors, as the Houston Rockets wiped out a 13-point deficit and tagged them with a 122-121 loss before a stunned sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

So ends, as it should, the spurious notion of a rubber-stamp championship for the Warriors. A strain here and a tweak there and they found themselves on the painful end of the score.

The Warriors learned prior to the game that forward Andre Iguodala, their valuable Sixth Man, would be out nursing a strained back. They were hit with another injury, this one to Draymond Green, who was highly effective, late in the third quarter.

“He was our best player tonight,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He was the guy who was bringing the energy and the life.”

Green’s numbers -- 9 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists -- barely hint at his value in this game. Green and Iguodala are the primary defensive communicators, and Green held it down fairly well -- until he, too, was gone.

“Our communication wasn’t very good and we didn’t stick to the game plan; we gave them too many wide-open threes,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 11 first-quarter points but only 5 over the final three.

“We did a good job in the half-court of keeping them in front,” said Kevin Durant, who also scolded himself for committing eight turnovers. “But in transition we got cross-matched so many times and we just didn’t communicate well enough.”

Games aren’t always lost in the fourth, despite the frequent narrative, but this one most assuredly was. With Green in the locker room accompanied by ice, the Warriors were outscored 34-20 in the fourth quarter.

After shooting 45.8 percent through three quarters, the Rockets took it to 56 percent in the fourth, closing the game on a 13-5 run over the final 4:01.

The Warriors don’t yet know when Green and Iguodala will return, whether it’s as soon as Friday at New Orleans or a matter of weeks. Until they do, Kerr will have to resort to patching things together.

Problem is, aside from the scoring of Nick Young (23 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep) and Jordan Bell (8 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 12 minutes), the bench did not distinguish itself.

That was particularly true on defense, which happen to be where Iguodala and Green make their greatest impact. The reserves accounted for 13 of the 25 fouls called on the Warriors.

“We’ve got to be better,” Durant said. “We’ve got to be better, and we’re looking forward to practice Wednesday.”

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

D'Antoni claps back at Draymond, Warriors after Rockets' 122-121 win

Draymond Green usually gets the last word.

Not this time.

"Somebody said we don't take it seriously on defense. Well obviously they don't take it seriously either," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Rockets knocked off the Warriors 122-121 on Tuesday night., according to Santa Rosa Press Democrat's Phil Barber.

The jab stems from Green's comments after practice on Monday.

"You should believe that. I'm turning over a new leaf. Number 1 -- they want it to be a shootout, which is fine. But we're gonna play some defense. We score pretty well, but we're a damn good defensive team, too. So we're gonna play some defense.

"I don't know how serious they take defense with that comment, but I know they added some good defensive players," Green told reporters Monday.

Green won't get his next shot at D'Antoni and the Rockets until January 4 in Houston.