Giants need runs in Game 2 against Pirates


Giants need runs in Game 2 against Pirates

Aug. 9, 2011

PITTSBURGH (55-59) vs.
GIANTS (63-53)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates' once-solid pitching staff fell apart during a 10-game losing skid, but they finally found a lineup they could handle in their opener against the San Francisco Giants.

Madison Bumgarner knows all too well about his team's offensive struggles.

Support has been hard to come by for Bumgarner, who tries to continue a stretch of solid pitching at home while hoping for some help Tuesday night as the Giants and Pirates continue this three-game set.

The sixth-best ERA in the majors (3.32) had Pittsburgh (55-59) in the thick of the NL Central race through July 28, but a staff that seemed to be maximizing its talent bottomed out over the next 10 days. The Pirates gave up 82 runs - 20 more than any other MLB team - during a 10-game skid that dropped them from 1 12 games out of first place to 10 back.

Pittsburgh got back to what had it in contention to begin with Monday night. Charlie Morton pitched eight strong innings and the Pirates went 5 for 13 with runners in scoring position in a 5-0 win.

"All in all, it was one of the better games we've had the last couple weeks," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's a good start. It's all we could do tonight to go play a complete ballgame."

The Giants (63-53) couldn't get a hit in 10 tries with runners on second or third - they're 4 for 40 in their last five games - though their lineup was hardly intimidating. Carlos Beltran sat out because of a strained right hand and wrist, an injury that isn't believed to be serious but prompted a precautionary MRI.

"As soon as I feel I can swing the bat, I'll be out there," Beltran said. "There are injuries where you can go out there and be under control. Swinging the bat is a huge part of the game. Throwing the ball is a huge part of the game."

He received treatment for the inflammation all day Monday and plans to test the hand with some simulation exercises Tuesday, but it's unclear whether he'll be able to return.

San Francisco certainly could use his help. The club still leads Arizona by one-half game in the NL West, but it has averaged 2.0 runs during a 2-9 stretch.

"This has been going on for a while and we need to do something about it," manager Bruce Bochy said of the Giants' offensive struggles. "It's not going to happen until we do come through with some clutch hitting."

A lack of support is nothing new to Bumgarner (6-11, 3.71 ERA), who's been given 2.73 runs per nine innings - third-worst in the majors.

The Giants have scored one run or fewer in 11 of his 23 starts, and they didn't give him any help Thursday. The left-hander held Philadelphia to two solo homers over eight innings - striking out nine - but lost 3-0, falling to 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in three home outings since the All-Star break.

"Eight innings of great work by Bum," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "He should feel good about that outing."

Bumgarner fared well in his lone career start against the Pirates, holding them to one run over six innings at PNC Park on April 27. But again, San Francisco failed to score in a 2-0 loss.

James McDonald (7-5, 4.23) was the winner that day, limiting the Giants to four hits over six innings.

He gave up four hits Thursday against the Cubs as well, but they inflicted much more damage. Three left the park, and the right-hander ended up without a decision in Pittsburgh's 7-6 loss.

McDonald's road ERA (5.53) is nearly 2.5 runs higher than at home (3.08).

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’


How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'


Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.