Giants

Huff hits three HRs, Giants take three from Cards

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Huff hits three HRs, Giants take three from Cards

June 1, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS POSTGAME VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD

ST. LOUIS (AP) The San Francisco Giants' top RBI man finally acted like him again.Aubrey Huff hit three home runs and matched his career best with six RBIs, and the San Francisco Giants hammered a pair of rookie pitchers making their major league debut in a 12-7 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night."It's a tremendous day," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a day he'll never forget and a big day for us."Huff, who entered batting .219, hit two-run homers in the fourth and ninth innings and a solo shot in the seventh for his first three-homer game. He also had an RBI single in the sixth. Huff raised his average 14 points while leading the surge for the Giants, who set a season high for runs."When Huffie gets going, he can carry the team. He did it last year," said Freddy Sanchez, who had a homer and four RBIs. "He's getting that confidence back and his swing is back."I don't think it's any coincidence that he's getting it going and we're getting going."Huff has four homers and seven RBIs the last two games after totaling four RBIs the previous 16 games.Colby Rasmus hit his second career grand slam and had a career-best six RBIs to help make it a contest for the Cardinals, who dropped three of four at home to the Giants for the first time since June 30-July 3, 2003. Albert Pujols had two hits, a steal and scored twice."He's got a ton of talent," manager Tony La Russa said of Rasmus. "The more at-bats, the more consistent he'll be."But Rasmus misplayed a leadoff double by pitcher Jonathan Sanchez to open the Giants' three-run sixth, drifting to his right on a ball in the gap that bounced off the warning track and into the stands."I kind of gave up on it there a little bit," Rasmus said. "I ain't going to blame it on anything, I just missed the play."The NL Central-leading Cardinals had been 13-1-1 in their previous 15 series since dropping two of three at San Francisco from April 8-10, leaving town with a 3-6 record.Triple-A callup Lance Lynn (0-1) needed 56 pitches to get through five innings while working on three days' rest, but retired only one of four hitters to start the Giants' sixth. Double-A reinforcement Mikail Cleto hit 98 mph several times on the stadium radar gun in the seventh but walked the first two hitters and surrendered back-to-back homers to Freddy Sanchez and Huff in a five-run inning that made it 10-3."There wasn't anything in Lynn's stuff to say he was pitching on short rest," La Russa said. "I mean, the situation was difficult. It would be difficult for anybody who would have pitched in the big leagues."Lynn said he wasn't tired, just made some poor pitches starting with Jonathan Sanchez's leadoff double."I felt good," Lynn said. "I need to keep pushing and fighting to get deeper into games."La Russa slotted Lynn ahead of Jaime Garcia in the rotation, giving the left-hander an extra day to get over a poor outing in which he surrendered 12 runs in 3 1-3 innings in Colorado. The move also set up Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Chris Carpenter to face the Cubs in a weekend series starting Friday, but left the Cardinals short in the finale against the Giants.La Russa was out to the mound for a pep talk with Cleto before Huff finished rounding the bases on his seventh homer of the season.Jonathan Sanchez (4-3) allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings, surviving a season-high six walks. Freddy Sanchez had a season high for RBIs with a three-run homer in the seventh and a run-scoring groundout in the sixth.The Giants entered the night with the second-lowest run total in the National League and are minus two big bats with catcher Buster Posey out for the season and Pablo Sandoval about to begin a rehab assignment from wrist surgery."Our numbers were so low it was a matter of time before these guys would get it going," Bochy said. "We're getting more consistent quality ABs, and I'm a firm believer that the more opportunities you create, the more times you're going to score."Rasmus' two-run triple put the Cardinals ahead 3-0 in the third, and his grand slam came in the seventh against Guillermo Mota, who has allowed at least one run in his last five appearances with a total of eight runs given up. Hitters are 11 for 23 against him during that stretch.NOTES: Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot singled in the second and has a career-best, 16-game hitting streak, the longest current run in the majors. ... Bochy doesn't think injured 2B Mark DeRosa (wrist) is close to returning, adding, "He says he doesn't feel anything, which shocks me." ... Huff has 13 career multihomer games. ... Bochy said rookie first baseman Brandon Belt (wrist), who missed two games after being hit by a pitch on Tuesday, will take swings Friday and could return to the lineup then.

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

Durable Longoria ready for additional boost from ballpark, Giants fans

SAN FRANCISCO — The field at AT&T Park is covered with patches and small piles of dirt right now, showing the signs of a winter hosting holiday parties and concerts, and a week with plenty of rain. 

For Evan Longoria, though, that grass was a beautiful sight.

A month after a trade that had him switching coasts, Longoria was introduced at a press conference at AT&T Park and ran the usual gauntlet with team employees and season-ticket holders. He spent some time this week looking for housing in the Bay Area, but soon he’ll be back in Scottsdale, getting to know new teammates and preparing his body for the 2018 season. 

Longoria said his workouts have been a bit different with a new staff, but the goal remains the same. He is a player who prides himself on taking the field every day, and that’s one of the traits that drew the Giants to Longoria. He has played at least 156 games in five consecutive seasons, and 160 in four of those seasons. 

It’s no accident that Bruce Bochy has mentioned durability during every media session this season. Andrew McCutchen has a similar track record, and the Giants lineup certainly could use some stability, especially at third base, where seven different players made double-digit starts last season. Longoria will change that. 

“I have a desire to play every day, and I think that that is infectious,” he said. “Players that may feel the grind of a long season or might be in a little bit of a funk offensively or defensively or with pitching, something like that can give you a boost when you have guys around that you know come to play and compete on a daily basis, no matter what the circumstance is.”

[RELATED: Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster]

For Longoria, who turned 32 early in the offseason, the circumstance has changed for the better. After years on the unforgiving turf at The Trop, he comes to a park and division featuring nothing but natural grass. 

“I hope it helps,” he said. “Going on the road (with the Rays), my body definitely felt better when I played on grass. I’m sure that it will help. It’s definitely not going to be a negative. Not playing on the turf anymore is something that crossed my mind as soon as the trade happened.”

Longoria expects to benefit from another aspect of AT&T Park, too. The Rays finished dead last in the majors last year with an average of 15,670 fans per game. Even though their sellout streak ended, the Giants still had an average of more than 40,000 per night. Asked about playing outdoors, Longoria smiled and added, “in front of fans.”

“The environment here is obviously much different, so it’s going to be nice to step into that on a daily basis and play in front of a fan base that’s obviously very storied,” he said. “It helps with energy. It helps with motivation.”

DeBoer's defense of Jones doesn't paint the whole picture

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DeBoer's defense of Jones doesn't paint the whole picture

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer passionately defended goaltender Martin Jones following San Jose's 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. For the eighth time in his last 14 starts, Jones allowed four goals, but DeBoer tried to take a look at the bigger picture. 

"You guys like to grab little pictures of things that work for the story your writing," DeBoer told reporters in Denver after he was asked about Jones' recent struggles. 

"It's 14 games. You can go back six games and write whatever story you want. He's having a great year for us. Our goaltending has been excellent all year."

If you look at his save percentage, Jones is not having a great season.

His save percentage in all situations (.9097) is the lowest in his three seasons in teal, and ranks 22nd out of the 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations, according to Corsica Hockey. His five-on-five save percentage (.9147) is also the lowest of his teal tenure, and sits 26th out of 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes. 

But save percentage doesn't always tell the whole story, as it doesn't take into account shot quality. As we've written previously, Jones has played behind a loose defense this season.

Among those aforementioned 30 goalies, Jones has faced the highest percentage of high-danger shots, the second-highest percentage of medium-danger shots, and fourth-lowest percentage of low-danger shots. 

Luckily, there's a metric that does take into account shot quality: goals saved above average (GSAA). GSAA works much like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball, and considers how well a league-average goaltender would do "based on the shot danger faced," according to Corsica's definition.

Jones has been better than his save percentage would indicate. His 0.54 five-on-five GSAA ranks 17th out of the 30 goalies that have played 1000 five-on-five minutes, and his all situations GSAA (8.69) ranks 11th out of 34 goalies that have played 1000 minutes in all situations. 

GSAA has the same downside as WAR, in that it's an accumulative statistic, and favors players that have played more. In order to equalize for playing time, we can look at GSAA/30 shots faced. 

Jones ranks 17th and 10th in five-on-five (0.03) and all situations (0.31) GSAA/30, respectively, among goaltenders that have played 1000 minutes in such circumstances. In other words, Jones has been about average during five-on-five play, and one of the league's better goalies across all situations, at least based on the kind of shots he's faced.

That's not neccessarily "great," but Jones has been better on the whole than his recent play would indicate. Of course, he's also been outplayed in his own crease.

Backup goaltender Aaron Dell not only boasts a higher save percentage than Jones, but his GSAA/30 in five-on-five situations (0.15) and across all strengths (0.44) are also higher than Jones'. Every 30 shots on the penalty kill, Dell (2.05 GSAA/30) saves nearly a goal more than Jones (1.06). 

DeBoer also acknowledged that Dell will have to play more out of necessity, with the Sharks halfway through a stretch of eight games in 13 days. That includes a difficult back-to-back this weekend, hosting the Penguins Saturday and facing the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday. 

The coach was on to something on Thursday. Yes, Jones has been better than his recenty play, and his season-long save percentage, would indicate. 

But that doesn't mean he's been "great," nor does it mean he's San Jose's better option in net right now.