Giants

Urban: Giants have the momentum, A's have arms

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Urban: Giants have the momentum, A's have arms

May 19, 2011
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Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

When in doubt, go the easy route: blame the Cubs.Specifically, blame Chicago. The Windy City's inclement weather Sunday blew away the opportunity to watch what was lined up as the three most exciting pitching matchups in the Bay Bridge Series' recent history. Without Sunday's rainout, which pushed Tim Lincecum's scheduled start to Monday, the expected trio of sellout crowds at AT&T Park this weekend would have been treated to Lincecum vs. Oakland ace Trevor Cahill in Friday's opener, Jonathan Sanchez vs. Brett Anderson in a battle of nasty southpaws on Saturday, and stoic Matt Cain vs. spastic Gio Gonzalez in Sunday's finale.No. 1s, No. 2s and No. 3s squaring off for Bay Area bragging rights. What a story it could have been.That said, it's not like the matchups we'll see instead are dogs. The A's are still trotting out the best three pitchers on what might be the best young staff in the American League. The Giants' new No. 5, Ryan Vogelsong, has plenty of momentum heading into his meeting with Cahill. Lincecum vs. Anderson should be a doozy, and there's something quite appealing about Sanchez vs. Gonzalez, two lefties with no-hit stuff but occasionally combustible command of the mental side of the game.PODCAST: Battle of the BayWho has the edge? That's a tough one, but if you happen to think momentum actually means anything in such situations, the Giants seem to have the upper hand.They're coming off a 3-3 road trip that started 1-3 and ended with a two-game sweep of their real rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers -- with both victories of the thrilling, good-to-the-last pitch variety. On Wednesday, Cody Ross hit a tie-breaking homer with two out in the ninth to give San Francisco an 8-5 victory. Thursday saw Nate Schierholtz turn in the Giants' defensive play of the year, a diving catch to end the game with the bases loaded, securing a 3-1 victory for previously winless Madison Bumgarner, picking up shaky closer Brian Wilson and covering for Ross himself, whose approach to Rod Barajas' looping single into left field with two out and nobody on was probably a tad too cautious for some tastes.Given the myriad injuries the Giants have suffered of late, a road split was big -- don't expect the A's, who long ago cornered the market on debilitating injuries, to have much sympathy -- and pushed the defending world champions' record over their past 15 games to an impressive 11-4.Returning to the shores of McCovey Cove will feel awfully good to the Giants, too. Their previous homestead featured six wins in six games against six sellout crowds.
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The A's? They just got swept in a two-game series by the worst team in baseball, the Minnesota Twins -- at home in Oakland.But you know what most baseball people say about momentum. It doesn't mean a thing. Momentum is that day's starting pitcher. And the A's have one of the best in the game going Friday in Cahill, whose stuff makes that of Vogelsong look pedestrian by comparison.So it's not going to be easy for the Giants by any stretch. The trio of A's pitchers working this weekend has more than enough potential to repeat the three-game massacre that Oakland slapped on struggling San Francisco in Oakland last season, when the Giants scored a not-so-grand total of one run in the series that serves as the impetus to take a flier on recently released Pat Burrell. It should be noted, though, that this edition of the A's is every bit as capable of seeing the tables turned. They're every bit as bad offensively, for the most part, as the Giants were at this time last season.COHN: Predicting the Bay Area's best pitchers in 2016
Then again, the Giants aren't exactly a juggernaut, either. They have, however, displayed the ability to step up their game against particularly tough pitchers.They beat Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley in L.A. They've handled Ubaldo Jimenez fairly well, too, although this year's Jimenez is a shadow of last year's.Can they do the same against Cahill, Anderson and Gonzalez? We'll know by Sunday evening. It should be a hell of a series either way.If it's not, it'll be for one of two reasons. One, of course, is the weather in the Windy City. The other is this whole end-of-the-world, rapture business. And truth be told, that's probably the Cubbies' fault, too.

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

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USATSI

Giants look poised to put Mac Williamson in left field Friday

PHOENIX — After his team was held to fewer than two runs for the 10th time this season, manager Bruce Bochy said Mac Williamson will be in Anaheim on Friday as part of the taxi squad. The Giants need the outfielder to be more of a tow truck. 

This is a lineup that has not gotten in gear in any way, but a red-hot reinforcement is on the way. Williamson was hitting .487 with six homers in 11 games in Triple-A, and while Bochy couldn’t say he’ll be active and in left field against the Angels, it was not hard to read between the lines. Hunter Pence said the thumb he sprained in the home opener continues to give him problems and needs a few days of rest. It seems likely that Williamson will officially be called up Friday, with Pence going on the disabled list. 

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow,” Bochy said. “Mostly he’s coming up because he’s swinging the bat well. We’re hoping he’ll be a shot in the arm and provide some production, and we need some help in that area.”

The futility has the Giants six games out of first after just three weeks of action. The culprit is clear. Johnny Cueto, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach combined to give up three runs over 20 innings in a tough ballpark, but the Giants still dropped two of three. 

They need more than just one offensive fix, but Williamson represents a start. The 27-year-old has never stuck in the majors, but he rebuilt his swing in the offseason while working with Doug Latta, a private instructor in the Los Angeles area who helped Justin Turner became a star. Williamson’s swing has many of the same markers as Turner’s, and he had a huge spring as he continued to work on adjustments. Williamson lowered his hands and added a higher leg kick in hopes of keeping his bat in the zone longer and being shorter and more direct to the ball. 

“In the past I’ve been really active with my shoulders and hands late in the swing instead of just going and attacking the ball,” he said this spring. “I’m trying to just really calm down a lot of that non-essential movement.”

Williamson knew there was not a spot for him on the opening day roster, but hoped to make an impact sooner than later. His torrid start, plus the struggles at the big league level, have made this a daily question. 

“He showed this spring with the adjustments he made that he’s primed,” Bochy said. “He went out and did what we were hoping.”

The key for the Giants now will be to show more faith than they have in the past. Williamson is a .226 hitter in the big leagues, but his 212 at-bats have been scattered across three seasons and plenty of call-ups. It seems he is always one 0 for 3 night away from a demotion, but the Giants would be well served to let him work through any kinks this time. 

The incumbent in left field, Pence, is batting .172. His backups — Gorkys Hernandez and Gregor Blanco — are better fits as defense-first reserves. Pence hurt his thumb while diving in left field during the home opener and said it has never gotten better. An MRI back then showed a sprain. 

“It’s been going in a backwards direction,” he said. 

So have the Giants, but perhaps help is finally on the way.

Kerr updates status of Durant, Livingston after ankle injuries in Game 3 win

Kerr updates status of Durant, Livingston after ankle injuries in Game 3 win

The Warriors are already dealing with Steph Curry's injury. And then they held their breath with two other players in nearly back-to-back plays in Game 3 Thursday night against the Spurs. 

Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston both left the game early after rolling their left ankle. Durant exited the game with 4:36 remaining and Livingston headed to the locker room at the 4:03 mark. 

"I think they're going to be okay," Steve Kerr said to reporters after the win in San Antonio. "Shaun's was probably a little worse than Kevin's. Both sprained ankles. I think they'll be alright." 

Going after a loose ball with Patty Mills playing tight defense, you can see Durant injure his ankle below: 

The Warriors' star forward told the following to ESPN's Chris Haynes: 

Durant led all scorers with 26 points. Livingston's 16 points were third on the Warriors Thursday and tied his season high.