Raiders

Surkamp, Giants look for another win over Padres

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Surkamp, Giants look for another win over Padres

September 6, 2011

GIANTS (74-67) vs.
SAN DIEGO (61-80)

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

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Pablo Sandoval and the San Francisco Giants aren't giving up on winning the NL West, but the task is daunting.

A lineup without Carlos Beltran would make it even more of a challenge.

With Beltran's status unclear, Sandoval and the Giants try to continue capitalizing on the last-place San Diego Padres on Tuesday night at Petco Park.

San Francisco (74-67) is second in the West, seven games back of first-place Arizona with 21 to play. The Giants failed to capitalize on a visit from the Diamondbacks over the weekend, dropping two of three. They meet again for three games in Phoenix from Sept. 23-25, but that series will be too late for the Giants to make a run unless they make up some ground first.

To do that, San Francisco must take advantage in the meantime of playing its next 16 games against the rest of the division, which is exclusively below .500.

Sandoval, who went 0 for 9 in the series against Arizona, got the seemingly favorable 16-game stretch off to a positive start by belting a pair of solo homers and scoring three runs in Monday's 7-2 win over San Diego (61-80). The victory was the Giants' seventh in nine meetings with the Padres, and came one day after they mustered three hits and wasted an eighth-inning lead en route to a 4-1 loss to Arizona.

REWIND: Sandoval, Bumgarner propel Giants past Padres

"I'm proud of how the guys bounced back," manager Bruce Bochy said. "They played so well. I mean, that's as tough a loss as we've had all year. We played one of our better games. We did a great job of putting that game behind us."

Sandoval is hitting .353 with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last 13 road games, and is batting .385 with two homers and six RBIs in seven visits this season to pitcher-friendly Petco.

San Francisco is hoping Beltran will be able to return after he missed Monday's series opener with an illness. Bochy said he had either serious food poisoning or the flu and was sick all night.

Beltran is batting .395 in 12 games since returning from a strained right hand and wrist.

San Francisco will give the ball to Eric Surkamp (0-0, 1.50 ERA), who is slated to be recalled from Class A San Jose to make his second appearance in the majors.

The 24-year-old left-hander showed promise Aug. 27, allowing one run and six hits in six innings of a 2-1, 10-inning victory over Houston. He overcame some early jitters, throwing one of his first pitches to the backstop and walking his first batter and three in the first three innings.

Surkamp will pitch on regular rest after throwing six scoreless innings to win for San Jose on Thursday.

The Padres, losers in 10 of 11, will turn to Wade LeBlanc (2-4, 5.14). The left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in four career starts against the Giants - all San Diego victories - but has yet to face them in 2011.

LeBlanc has struggled in his last two outings, surrendering nine runs and 13 hits in 10 innings. He gave up four runs in six innings of Wednesday's 4-2 loss at Los Angeles.

"I didn't have a whole lot, so when you get to that point, it's just a matter of how close you can keep the game and give the guys a chance to win it," he said.

LeBlanc has held Sandoval to two hits in 11 at-bats.

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

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Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night:

1. Back from the brink

The Raiders are still under .500. They face an uphill climb getting back into playoff consideration following a crippling four-game losing streak.

Still. 3-4 is a whole heck of a lot better than the alternative.

“Yeah, 2-5 did not sound good,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That made our stomach hurt. We wanted to come out here and get a big win. This is a big win. For our team, especially with the adversity we’ve gone through.”

The Raiders looked lost during their downturn, when a loaded offense averaged 13.1 points per game. They fell to 14th in the AFC and last in their division. Perceived strengths proved suspect. Everything was called into question.

If the Raiders were drowning, Thursday was that point in the movie where the hero reappears taking a huge, dramatic breath.

The Raiders are alive again, especially in beating the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. There’s work ahead to make it more than a really fun night, but Thursday proved their survival instincts are still keen.

“It felt good,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I wish it would have happened a few weeks ago. We wouldn’t be sitting here like that. You all would have been talking like ‘OK, we’re on a run.' I’m glad to get things going.

“I told them today I was going to go out there and let it rip. I told some other guys to go out there and let it rip. This offense was trying to be too perfect. We had high hopes going into the season when we started, then we hit adversity. We couldn’t find a way to get out of there fast enough. Now we’re getting out of this, but we have to keep it going. One thing we have been doing is we’ve been working as hard as we do every week. It’s starting to pay off.”

2. Dormant volcano erupts

The Raiders offense was horrible four straight games. The season’s first two games proved what a loaded unit can do when functioning well, but those efforts got lost in a wash of bad play.

An MVP-caliber quarterback’s play was openly questioned for the first time. So was a bright young coordinator taking shrapnel for the team’s misgivings. Averaging 13 points per game will make a fan base an angry mob. The offense grossly underperformed, but raw talent didn’t diminish.

Production was hot lava, bubbling underneath the surface. It erupted on Thursday night, with the previously cautious Raiders offense opened up and consistently took yards in chunks.

In doing so, a lost offense may have found an identity, a fallback: The Raiders can flat out sling it.

Quarterback Derek Carr was throwing darts all over the field, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 8.0 yards per pass play and, at times, threw people open or allowed receivers to make a play in tight coverage.

Pass catchers certainly did that. Amari Cooper had 11 catches for 210 and two scores. Tight end Jared Cook had six receptions for 107 yards. Michael Crabtree only had 24 yards, but snagged the game-deciding touchdown.

It felt and looked like the Raiders offense everyone expected each week, finally back on track. That was clear after Carr threw Amari Cooper a touchdown pass the first two drives.

“We struggled to do a lot of things over the last month,” Carr said. “To start fast, again I think that gives life to a team. That’s a sense of hope, which we always have and belief and those kind of things, but to start fast, it always just gives your team a little boost at the beginning that you have to have.”

In previous weeks, the Raiders were wound too tight. They strived for perfection and failed to attain anything close. They just let loose, and went for it. An offense with no TNT blew up, to the tune of six explosive plays.

“We got so many weapons, we got so many explosive athletes on our offense but just in these last four games that we loss we were just so out of whack,” running back Jalen Richard said. “It was little stuff here and there, technical, maybe a missed assignment here and there. Guys were doing their thing, guys were playing hard. We believed the whole game even when we got down a little bit. We pulled through and got the win.”

3. Return of the 2016 Raiders

Last season’s Raiders owned the fourth quarter. They generated seven come-from-behind victories last season thanks to offensive magic and timely defense.

That’s how they erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Kansas City. They never wavered, even in tough times. The defense provided opportunity. With two minutes remaining, the offense got it done.

Derek Carr orchestrated an 11-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Crabtree on the second straight untimed down brought on by defensive penalty.

That moment produced great emotion. It should’ve after completing one of the wildest comebacks in franchise history. The drive itself, however, was clinical.

The Raiders believed they would score. They expected it.

"There was no panic, or anxiety or anything like that,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “We were going to get the job done. There was never, ever any doubt.”

That’s exactly what last year’s Raiders did. On the regular. They couldn’t respond well to adversity in recent games. They found their magic on Thursday night.

Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

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Mark your calendars right now for Raiders-Chiefs 2.0 in December

In case you were asking, and you shouldn’t have been because this game deserves to be savored a bit longer, it’s December 10.
 
That’s when the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders play each other again, in case Thursday night wasn’t good enough for you.

You philistines.

And while there are some folks who won’t be happy (those who like the Chiefs or bet the Chiefs), there won’t be a more magnificently bizarre game this NFL season – because these two teams are exactly that.
 
Bizarre.
 
The Chiefs, who two weeks ago were the best team in football as voted on by the instant punditocracy, made enough mistakes in the last two minutes of Thursday’s 31-30 defeat to lose 47-10.
 
And the Raiders did the same, capped off by Marshawn Lynch’s gloriously Oaklandish reaction to fellow citizen Marcus Peters’ late hit on Derek Carr – namely, “I got your rules and your respect for officials right here!”
 
But in the end – the glorious, bizarre, untimed end – the Raiders saved themselves from pre-Halloween doom, the Chiefs reverted to the team you can never fully trust, and the rest of the NFL can only shake its collective neckless head in wonderment at the power of the old American Football League.
 
Because that, ultimately, is what this was – a game out of time. This was a throwback game, all the way back to the mid- to late-60s, when the Raiders and Chiefs hated each other not out of historical duty but out of genuine solar-generated animosity. When they both played as though their cars were being looted in the parking lot, and when 750-yard combined passing nights were actually not that unusual. They were hell-bent then, and Thursday showed that they still have that bent in their DNA even now.
 
This was that era, played out in a way that old Raider and Chiefs fans can tell their grandchildren, “Now you’re sitting there scratching your head and all, but I’m telling you that used to happen all the time. You think Marcus Peters was bad? Google Ben Davidson on Len Dawson, little Tad.”
 
And it ended the only way it could for the good of the rivalry – with Oakland winning, and in the most staggeringly improbable way.
 
Not because the Raiders are more noble human beings or a superior life form from a time long ago, but because that December 10 game needs to mean something. The Raiders needed to win Thursday because losing meant their playoff hopes would be deservedly dead, and their remaining nine games would be reduced to competitive afterthoughts, and the year would be reduced to wondering why what should have been never came close to happening.
 
And the Chiefs needed to lose because running away with a division this difficult just seems wrong. There is nothing that says Kansas City isn’t better than Denver, or Oakland or the Fightin’ StubHubs, but it shouldn’t be this easy. The Patriots may have eaten the AFC East and spit the bones into a dumpster long ago, but the AFC West clung harder to its AFL roots than the East ever did.
 
And Thursday was the evidence required to show that, at least for the Chiefs and Raiders, the old days can be recreated with a keen eye for the most malevolent details and the most bizarre turns of fortune.
 
Call it nostalgia on crank – seemingly the only thing we have left that can bond the generations in these otherwise mean-spirited days.