Giants BP helps close out Tigers in World Series


Giants BP helps close out Tigers in World Series

DETROIT (AP) Jeremy Affeldt was first. Then Santiago Casilla came on and got the ball to Sergio Romo, who closed it out for San Francisco.

When Matt Cain was unable to finish off the Detroit Tigers, his buddies in the bullpen took over.

Affeldt, Casilla and Romo combined for three scoreless innings in relief of Cain, striking out seven in all to help the Giants to a 4-3 victory in Game 4 that clinched the World Series title for the Giants on Sunday night.

Romo struck out the side in the 10th inning, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for the final out, for his fourth save of the postseason.

``He's a guy you want out there,'' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. ``He's not afraid and commands the ball so well. Really, I know this is a play on words, he saved us all year.''

The 5-foot-11 right-hander became the first pitcher to save at least three games in the World Series since John Wetteland did it for the New York Yankees in 1996.

``Romo has that unhittable slider and he never let the moment get to him,'' fellow Giants pitcher Javier Lopez said. ``He just went in there and attacked the zone like he's done all year long and you saw the results.

``He's a little man that pitches like a big man.''

Casilla hit Omar Infante, breaking his left hand, in the ninth, but bounced back by getting Gerald Laird to hit into a fielder's choice and got the win.

Affeldt gave up a leadoff walk in the eighth inning, then struck out the middle of Detroit's lineup - Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young - while pitching 1 2-3 innings.

While the bullpen gets credit for its performance, Affeldt dished some back to Cain.

``What an amazing job keeping us in the game seven innings so we didn't need to use our `pen until late in the game,'' Affeldt said.


RETURN TRIP: Manager Bruce Bochy guided San Francisco to the 2010 championship and to another title on Sunday night.

But long before that, he was a backup catcher for the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.

``That was so long ago, but it is amazing how things come back around,'' Bochy said.

In his only at-bat, he got a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, the day Detroit closed out the championship.

``I have great memories of being in the World Series, not real good ones on how it came out,'' he said.

``But what a thrill for any player, and of course myself, when you get to the World Series for the first time. We had split in San Diego, then came here and they beat us here,'' he said. ``But great time for me, I got one at-bat, and I was thrilled that Dick Williams put me in there.''


HALL OF FAME PRAISE: Al Kaline played in an era of greats, from Ted Williams to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson.

Yet the former Detroit standout says the top guy he watched was someone he never faced in a regular-season game.

Kaline, now 77 and a special assistant for the Tigers, was at AT&T Park in San Francisco earlier in the World Series. Willie Mays, at 81, took part in the first-ball ceremony honoring Giants stars before Game 1.

``Willie Mays was the best player I ever saw,'' Kaline said. ``I was lucky to see a lot of them. But Willie was something special.''

``To me, he was the poster boy for baseball. The way he played, his enthusiasm and his ability,'' Kaline said of his fellow Hall of Famer.

The Tigers and Giants had never met in postseason play before this year, and there was no interleague play in their day. With Detroit working out in Florida and the Giants in Arizona, they didn't see each other in spring training.

Mays made his first All-Star team in 1954 and Kaline was first picked a year later. They were then chosen in every summer showcase through 1967.

``That's where I got to see him, and he was fun to watch. He could really play,'' Kaline said.

Kaline, however, said he never got to spend much time with Mays.

``I see him at the Hall of Fame and like to stop by, shake his hand and just be who I am,'' he said. ``I'm not kidding myself. I was a good player. But he was great. There aren't too many who were at his level.''


ON PITCH: Jim Leyland is in tune with Justin Verlander.

``I'm aware of his singing skills,'' the Tigers' ace said Sunday. ``I've seen it a couple times at some hotels. In the hotel bar sometimes they'll have a setup and he gets on the mic.''

Leyland has managed the Tigers since 2006. Verlander's entire career has been under Leyland, except for his first two games in 2005.

``He's an old school manager, and I feel maybe if I had played for a different manager, things might not be the same as they are now, where they let me go out and be that workhorse and throw 120 pitches an outing,'' Verlander said.

``You see some teams that are a little different in that regard. But I consider myself an old school pitcher, and I think Skip considers himself an old school manager. He allows me to go out there and do what I do.''

Quick Links

Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

USA Today Sports Images

Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

USA Today Sports Images

Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.