Nationals

Halfway to title: Giants win 2-0 for 2-0 WS lead

201210252229809430199-p2.jpeg

Halfway to title: Giants win 2-0 for 2-0 WS lead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The Giants' extended family lingered on the field long after the final out, posing for pictures and savoring the win. Cars honked in the streets outside AT&T Park and fans celebrated in the bars.

San Francisco is halfway to the World Series title, not all the way there. Yet, after two days of beneficial bounces and pivotal plays that went their way, the Giants and their supporters seem to think the team's second championship in three years is only a couple of days away.

``When things are going well,'' Marco Scutaro said, ``things are bouncing your way.''

Madison Bumgarner pitched two-hit ball over seven innings, the Giants threw out a runner at the plate and then took advantage of a bunt that stayed fair to push across the go-ahead run in a 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night that gave them a World Series edge.

``It's a lot less stressful for sure,'' Bumgarner said, ``but at the same time I don't think we can stop pushing or we're going to find ourselves in the same spot we've been in in the last two series.''

And that would be on the brink of elimination.

San Francisco lost its first two games against Cincinnati, then became the first baseball team to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-five series by winning three straight on the road. Then the Giants fell into 1-3 hole against St. Louis before rallying to reach the World Series.

``It's great to get off to a good start,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ``We don't, believe me, take anything for granted.''

As in, Gregor Blanco's bunt trickling to a stop inches fair on the infield dirt for a bases-loading, 45-foot single that set up Brandon Crawford's run-scoring double-play grounder in the seventh.

``I was joking with Roberto Kelly when I got to first base, `We practiced that today,''' Blanco said, referring to the Giants' coach. ``That was a perfect bunt. I wasn't really trying to do that. I think it was just meant to be.''

Hunter Pence, in a 1-for-7 Series slide, added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

That was enough for the Giants, given that San Francisco starters have allowed two runs in 33 innings over the last five games, a 0.55 ERA, with 30 strikeouts and six walks.

``It definitely feels a whole lot better than having our backs against the wall,'' Bumgarner said. ``But you can't relax. We've got to keep pushing.''

Game 3 will be Saturday night in Detroit, which can't win the title at home. Midseason acquisition Anibal Sanchez starts for the Tigers and Ryan Vogelsong for San Francisco on a night when the temperature in the Motor City is expected to be in the low-to-mid 40s.

``We can't try to win three in one day,'' Prince Fielder said. ``Or two for that matter.''

Fielder was thrown out at the plate in the second inning, and in the bottom half pitcher Doug Fister was struck on the right side of his head by Blanco's line drive, a ball hit so hard that it caromed into shallow center field.

``They asked me the typical concussion questions,'' Fister said. ``I'm not concerned. I have a minor bump. According to my dad, my whole life his saying has always been if I got hit in the head I'd be OK. That's how I take it.''

The 6-foot-8 Fister managed to stay on the mound. Bumgarner more than matched him. Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect eighth and Sergio Romo worked a 1-2-3 ninth for a save.

``I don't know about baseball gods, but I'll tell you one thing: I hope the ball keeps bouncing our way,'' Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt said.

Fielder was hit by a pitch starting the second, Delmon Young followed with a double and when the ball rattled around in left field, third-base coach Gene Lamont waved the beefy slugger home.

Scutaro, in the middle of every big play for the Giants this month, dashed across the diamond, caught Blanco's relay and sent a strong throw to the plate. All-Star catcher Buster Posey made a swipe tag to Fielder's backside.

``Any time those kind of freak plays happen that don't go your way,'' Fielder said. ``It takes away a little momentum but you've got to be aggressive. They made a perfect play.''

Bumped from the NLCS rotation after two poor postseason starts, Bumgarner struck out eight and looked as sharp as he did in the 2010 World Series when as a 21-year-old rookie he beat Texas in Game 4 with eight shutout innings.

``Just able to make pitches,'' Bumgarner said. ``I hadn't done a very good job of making pitches this postseason so far and this is a team that you're not going to be able to afford to miss with.

``They hit some balls hard, but luckily we were in the right spot,'' he said.

The game remained scoreless until the seventh, when Pence led off with a single, rookie reliever Drew Smyly walked Brandon Belt on a full-count pitch and Blanco's bunt loaded the bases with no outs

Detroit kept its infield back up the middle, and had no play at the plate on Crawford's bouncer to second.

``We felt like we played double-play depth because we felt like we couldn't give them two runs. That's why we did that, and we got the double play,'' Leyland said. ``To be honest with you, we were absolutely thrilled to come out of that inning with one run. Absolutely thrilled. I mean, we had to score anyway.''

Of the 52 teams to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series, 41 have gone on to win the title. That includes 14 of the last 15 teams with that advantage.

``I haven't done any studies on it,'' Affeldt said, ``but statisically it's always better to be 2-0 than 1-1 or 0-2. I'm just guessing.''

NOTES: Bumgarner struck out Austin Jackson and Omar Infante to start the game. Two other Giants fanned the first two batters in a Series game: Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933). ... Posey has a hit in all seven World Series games in his career.

Quick Links

Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

nats-phillies-rain-delay-june-18-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies are 2-for-2.

Tuesday night's game was postponed following a two-hour rain delay. Monday's game was postponed after a three-hour rain delay.

Tuesday's game will be made up as part of a split day-night doubleheader Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., bumping a four-game series to a five-game series. The Nationals and Phillies are scheduled to also play a split day-night doubleheader Wednesday.

The day was not without news. Nationals ace Max Scherzer broke his nose in batting practice when a ball bounced off his bat and struck him in the face. Scherzer was attempting to bunt at the time.

Scherzer's injury and the multiple postponements throw the Nationals' pitching plans into disarray. They're not sure if Scherzer will pitch as expected Wednesday. It appears Austin Voth, who was scratched from his Thursday start for Triple-A Fresno, will be available to pitch in one of the Wednesday games -- should they be played. More rain is expected Wednesday.

The Nationals will bump Patrick Corbin, who was slated to pitch again Tuesday, into a Wednesday spot. Wednesday's other starter is TBA. It could be Scherzer if he is ready. It could be Erick Fedde, and Voth could be used in the bullpen as the 26th man. That would provide Scherzer a chance to pitch Thursday and Strasburg on Friday against Atlanta. 

Or, Scherzer could be provided more time off. There's a lot to sort out once again thanks to the rain.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

 

Quick Links

Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

bobby-portis-reaction-wizards-hornets-usat.jpg
USA Today

Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

This summer is shaping up to be lucrative for NBA free agents and big man Bobby Portis is well-positioned to cash in. After spending the final three months of the 2018-19 season with the Wizards, Portis is already seeing a healthy market develop ahead of the June 30 start of the league's negotiating period, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Wizards are likely to first extend a qualifying offer on June 30 to make him a restricted free agent. According to Spotrac.com, it will be about $3.6 million and that will give the Wizards the right to match an offer sheet from another franchise.

But teams are already indicating they want Portis, who is just 24 and coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in 50 games. That market includes 5-10 teams and could grow once free agency opens.

Portis is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and Knicks among others, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Despite restricted free agency, Portis has a few things working for him. For one, there are a lot of teams with cap room. Spending won't reach 2016 levels, when the new CBA spiked the salary cap, but there will a lot of money to go around.

Also, guys in Portis' tier will only be helped if the top free agent options continue to dwindle. Klay Thompson looks more likely than ever to stay in Golden State after tearing his ACL. Winning a title could increase the odds Kawhi Leonard re-signs in Toronto, according to reports. And Kevin Durant's torn Achilles has thrown a wrench into the plans of teams with the most money to spend.

There is also the possibility Kemba Walker stays in Charlotte. And Kyrie Irving signing with Brooklyn, if it happens, would leave others exploring backup plans.

Portis isn't directly competing with any of those players, but could benefit if the top options are off the market. His name will only move up the list if that is the case.

Portis also has a unique selling point going for him. He shot 39.3 percent from three this past season and held a 40.3 percent clip to close the year in his 28 games with the Wizards. Three-point shooting is more valuable than ever and he brings that to the table at 6-foot-10.

Portis, who averaged 3.8 three-point attempts per game this past season, was one of only six players 6-10 or taller to shoot at least 39 percent on 3.5 attempts or more (min. 50 G). 

The question for Portis will be whether he gets the money he wants. He turned down an extension with the Chicago Bulls last fall just hours before the deadline to sign one. According to the Chicago Tribune, the deal was worth about $50 million and he wants to be paid in the range of $16 million annually. His asking price was partly why the Bulls traded him to the Wizards in February.

Even if the Wizards clear money, and they are expected to free up some by declining Jabari Parker's $20 million team option by the June 29 deadline, Portis could price himself out of Washington. It might not even take $16 million per year for that to happen.

The Wizards are set to operate through free agency with interim team president Tommy Sheppard at the helm, as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Sheppard making the call increases Portis' odds of staying, but that doesn't mean the price will match for both sides.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: