Giants, Tigers pitched their way to the top


Giants, Tigers pitched their way to the top

DETROIT (AP) When the San Francisco Giants scored twice off Detroit's Anibal Sanchez in the second inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Tigers fans at Comerica Park immediately grew edgy.

In this postseason, two runs can feel like 20.

``They're normally hard to come by in postseason, because you're going to face a good pitcher pretty much every night,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Leyland's observed that first hand this year. The Tigers reached the World Series thanks to a fabulous performance by the starting rotation - and they entered Game 4 on Sunday night on the verge of elimination for pretty much the same reason. San Francisco led the series 3-0 after shutting Detroit out in Games 2 and 3.

The composite ERA in baseball's postseason this year was 3.04 through Saturday night, the lowest since 1991, according to STATS, LLC. The Giants became the first team to throw back-to-back shutouts in the World Series since Baltimore blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers three times in a row in 1966.

That dangerous Detroit slugging tandem of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder? As quiet as Cabrera's bases-loaded popup in Game 3 - and his postgame departure without speaking to reporters.

``The biggest thing is taking care of the guys in front of them,'' said Giants right-hander Matt Cain, who was set to start the potential clincher Sunday. ``If you can get the first two guys out in front of them ... it just makes it a little bit easier stress-wise. When you've got a couple guys on with Cabrera or Fielder or (Delmon) Young ... things aren't going so well. So you've got to focus on the guys in front of them, as well. It's just not the guys in the middle.

It didn't seem like anyone would top what Justin Verlander and the Tigers did on the mound through the first two rounds of the postseason. The Detroit ace allowed one run over two division series starts against Oakland, shutting out the Athletics in the decisive fifth game. In the AL championship series against the New York Yankees, the Tigers gave up only six runs in a four-game sweep - and four of them were against closer Jose Valverde in one inning of Game 1.

At one point, Detroit's starters went 30 1-3 innings without allowing a run, a record for a single postseason. Then the World Series began, and the Giants made a bid for some history of their own.

After three games, San Francisco's World Series ERA was 1.00, the lowest since Baltimore's 0.50 in 1966, according to STATS. The only team to post a lower ERA in the Fall Classic than those Orioles was the New York Giants, who did not allow a single earned run in the 1905 Series in their five-game win over the Philadelphia Athletics.

San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong has become the third pitcher to make four straight starts in a single postseason in which he allowed no more than one run. Tim Lincecum has provided a lift out of the bullpen. Even Barry Zito has pitched well lately for the Giants.

``I've been watching these guys all year,'' San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford said. ``They're a lot of fun to play around. They all go out there and compete, throw all their pitches for strikes. It's easy to play defense for them.''

With the Giants a win from another World Series title, the Tigers were putting their hopes in the prospects of an improbable rally. It didn't look likely, but Detroit's own rotation was a decent straw for the Tigers to grasp at.

Max Scherzer was scheduled to pitch Game 4, followed by Verlander, Doug Fister and Sanchez. It was a foursome certainly capable of leading a four-game comeback - if the Tigers could only start scoring.

``It is extremely impressive what we were able to do through pretty much the entire postseason as a staff,'' Verlander said. ``And obviously the Giants all year, their team was built on good pitching and defense and scoring opportune runs. That recipe has led to postseason success for them thus far.

``Obviously it's going to be tough to beat a team like that four in a row, but if anybody is capable of it, we are.''

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch


Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.


Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:


Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.



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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:


2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:


4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection: