Sharks

Zito outstanding as Giants take series from Dodgers

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Zito outstanding as Giants take series from Dodgers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO In perhaps the most important game for both clubs so far in 2012, a pair of Cy Young Award winners were set to duel in the rubber match of the Giants-Dodgers series, as the longtime rivals battle for the NL West Division crown.One of them, Barry Zito, resembled the hurler that took home pitchings most prestigious honor in 2002. The other, 2011 winner Clayton Kershaw, never made it out of the training room.Zito was brilliant in 6.1 shutout innings while Kershaw was a late scratch with a sore hip as the Giants took the game and the series with a 4-0 win over Los Angeles on Sunday evening in front of a sellout crowd and national television audience. They lead the Dodgers by five and a half games with just 22 left to play after winning two of three this weekend.Hunter Pences two-out, two-run double in the first inning set the tone, while Angel Pagan and Buster Posey provided key hits in the middle innings, including Poseys 20th home run of the season. But it was Zitos performance that trumped all else.I thought he did a nice job of throwing the ball to both sides of the plate. His curveball was great, he was able to throw it backdoor to righties, and back foot, said Posey, who caught Zito for the second time in his last four starts. Overall, it seemed like he pitched with a lot of confidence. He did a great job.Sergio Romo, who closed out the game, said: He aint backing down from those guys, and he aint backing down from anybody, so he came out today ready to rock. Thats just the attitude we all have. We understand and honestly believe were pretty dang good. Were just going to go out and play and do that, and Barry is a great example of that attitude.Zito surrendered a double to Mark Ellis to start the game, but after getting out of that inning unscathed, settled in nicely. He scattered four hits and walked three while striking out four, and was never really in trouble until he allowed two baserunners with one out in the top of the seventh.When Bruce Bochy called upon Santiago Casilla, the AT&T Park crowd showed its appreciation for Zitos performance with a standing ovation.That was nice. The crowd was electric tonight, and very involved, said Zito, who secured his 11th win against eight losses. Every pitch in the game, we just have the best atmosphere in baseball here.Zito was also grateful for Casilla, who struck out pinch hitter Bobby Abreu and later got Shane Victorino to fly out to left with the bases loaded to end the seventh.The bullpen has just been outstanding, he said. Casilla came in and really slammed the door there with one out and two runners on against the heart of the lineup. For Bochy to manage the bullpen the way he has, he doesnt get enough credit. Its not easy in the first place.While no one would admit that Kershaws absence was a relief, the Giants were surely fortunate to face righty Joe Blanton rather than the Dodgers ace. Kershaw was 5-0 against the Giants last season, and while hes just 1-3 against them this year, still sports a miniscule 1.74 ERA in 31 innings pitched against San Francisco in 2012.Hes one of the best pitchers in the game. We havent done a lot with him, Bochy said. We have found ways to get wins against him, but thats because the guy pitching for us has done a great job in the game hes pitched. We still had our work cut out, Blantons a good pitcher. Hes been around and knows what hes doing, and sure, when you dodge Kershaw you dont mind, but at the same time they have a lot of depth out there. We went into this game knowing we still had work to do.Pence is plenty familiar with Blanton, as the two started the season on the Philadelphia Phillies roster before they were dealt to the West Coast. His clutch first inning hit, after Posey had struck out, was clearly the biggest offensive moment in the game.When youre facing Joe, I knew he was going to probably come in with some fastballs, and he has a good cutter and good slider, Pence said. Thats what I was getting ready for.Bochy said: Especially once they got Buster there, its about picking each other up, and Pence came through with that double. To get an early lead, thats what youre always hoping for. Those two-out hits are what win ball games for you. He came through there, and I think it helps guys relax.While a five-and-a-half game lead with less than a month to go in the season could be viewed as insurmountable, the Giants arent acting like theyve accomplished anything just yet.This was a big series, Posey said. I thought we came out and played well. Today was a huge game. Again, you cant say enough about the performance Zito had. We do have a decent amount of baseball left to play, so we have to keep going and keep pushing.Zito said: We certainly cant rest on our laurels. We have to fight every day, and thats something weve been doing in spite of people weve been losing with injuries and other things. We cant take anything for granted.

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

Sharks dominate Ducks for two wins in two nights

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist, and the San Jose Sharks beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Sunday night.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Labanc and Melker Karlsson also scored for the Sharks, who have won five of six. Aaron Dell stopped 33 shots.

Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf scored for Anaheim. John Gibson stopped only 17 of 22 shots and was replaced after giving up his fifth goal. Anaheim had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

Four goals came in the third period. First, Anaheim pulled within one when Ondrej Kase stole the puck from behind the net and quickly fed Getzlaf, who fired it past Dell.

One minute later, the Sharks answered when Thornton's slap shot went in.

Boedker's second goal gave San Joe a 5-2 lead, and Karlsson's goal on goalie Ryan Miller made it a runaway.

The Ducks first found the net in the final minute of the second period, but that took a two-man advantage and a bit of luck.

Rakell was camped a few feet below the crease when he snapped a shot. San Jose's Justin Braun stuck out a stick, but it deflected the puck off the back of Dell's arm and into the net.

It was Rakell's team-high 17th goal this season.

San Jose appeared to take a commanding 3-0 lead on a power play in the second period. Boedker fired a shot from the top of the right circle that whistled past Gibson.

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead early in the second period when Anaheim's No.1 line turned the puck over. Thornton snapped it out to Labanc, who popped free for a breakaway. He beat Gibson on his short side for his fifth goal.

The Sharks took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a nifty give-and-go when Tomas Hertl skated down the far side and sent a pass through the legs of Anaheim's Brandon Montour and right to Vlasic in front of the net.

Vlasic snapped it past Gibson for his seventh goal of the season.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Return to San Jose on Tuesday night to play the Jets.

Ducks: Remain at home to play the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Sharks take risk as Dell draws Ducks on second night of a back-to-back

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AP

Sharks take risk as Dell draws Ducks on second night of a back-to-back

Aaron Dell last started two games in two days on April 29, 2016. Dell, then the starter with the AHL's San Jose Barracuda, manned the net in Game 4 of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. 

The Barracuda suffered a season-ending loss to the Ontario Reign that day, and Dell gave up three goals on 34 shots. That was the 20th time in three seasons in the AHL and ECHL that Dell started the first and second half of a back-to-back. 

Dell will end up starting both nights of a back-to-back for the 21st time since 2013 on Sunday. A night after stopping 31 of 32 shots against the reigning champion Penguins, Dell is set to start a pivotal Pacific Division matchup against the Ducks, who are only three points behind the Sharks for the second divisional playoff spot. 

His coach with the Sharks, Peter DeBoer, is no stranger to starting the same goalie on consecutive nights. He's done so seven times in his three seasons behind San Jose's bench, starting Martin Jones in all seven of those games.

Part of that is because of the team's confidence in Jones, who they view as a franchise goaltender. But on some level, these decisions have been driven by an initial hesitancy towards Jones' backups. 

Whatever the reason, DeBoer's been rewarded for rolling the dice and relying on Jones. On the second half of a back-to-back after starting the previous night, Jones has gone 5-2-0 with a .919 save percentage. 

With Jones out due to a lower-body injury, the Sharks once again appear hesitant about Dell's current backup, and rightfully so. Troy Grosenick has made two NHL starts and won the Baz Bastien Award as the AHL's best goaltender last season, but only has a .908 save percentage on 4336 shots in his AHL career, which is enough of a sample to say Grosenick's unlikely to establish himself as a regular NHL goaltender. 

DeBoer's decision to start Dell is thus understandable, but not without its downsides. Eric Tulsky, now the manager of analytics for the Carolina Hurricanes, and Broad Street Hockey associate editor Kurt R. found in 2013 that goalies perform worse on the second half of a back-to-back. That hasn't yet happened when DeBoer's rolled the dice, but it has happened to Dell. 

In his 20 previous starts on the second night of a back-to-back after starting the first half, Dell went 8-9-3, with a .915 save percentage, down from his .921 career save percentage in the AHL and ECHL. That may not seem like a lot, but such a drop in San Jose's save percentage this season would translate to about eight more goals against, which would leave the Sharks in the red in terms of goal differential. 

With only one established NHL goalie on his roster, DeBoer is then left with two bad options. Start Dell, knowing the risks of starting a goalie two nights in a row, or start Grosenick, a minor leaguer without a track record that warrants much confidence.

He opted for the former, and has caught lightning in a bottle before doing the same with Jones. That doesn't mean you can expect it again on Sunday against the Ducks.