‘An unbelievable victory,’ said Warriors coach

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

OAKLAND — So much has been said about the Warriors, their shooting, their defense and all the other facets that are part of winning basketball. But maybe, in this great run of a half decade, not enough emphasis has been put on a word that their coach, Steve Kerr, used on Wednesday night after a game as wild and emotional as any: guts.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


For Draymond, a return to the game he loves

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. — This was the way Draymond Green likes it, and not only because the Warriors won, although that might have entered into the equation.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


Baseball gods, Longoria team to get Giants a win

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — This one goes to the baseball gods. And to Evan Longoria, who wouldn’t have been in the game if Pablo Sandoval, a switch hitter, hadn’t hurt his leg the day before and felt he couldn’t swing righthanded.

“Sometimes it works out,” Bruce Bochy, the Giants' manager agreed, “sometimes it doesn’t.”

In a convoluted sort of way it worked Monday night against the Dodgers, and for the Giants, who had lost three in a row, there could be nobody better against whom something would work.

It was Longoria, “Longo” as everyone calls him, who delivered what arguably was the biggest hit of the year and a month he’s been with the Giants, a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh that scored all three runners and beat the Dodgers, 3-2.

“He needed that hit,” said Bochy. “We needed it.”

Let’s back up to the sixth inning, where the Dodgers scored their two runs in the top half — Cody Bellinger, naturally, drove in one, and his 37 RBI are the most before May in major league history.

In the bottom of the inning, Buster Posey doubled, and with Sandoval coming to the plate, the Dodgers brought in a new pitcher, Scott Alexander, a lefty, which wouldn’t have mattered it Pablo could swing righthanded comfortably.

But he couldn't, so Bochy pinch hit another righthanded batter, Longoria, who plays third base, as Sandoval has been doing in the game.

Longoria, struggling — he’s hitless in his previous 10 at bats — flied out to no one else but Bellinger, a.k.a. Superman. But at least Longo was in the game, and when he came up in the seventh he doubled off Dylan Florio.

Like that, the chants of “Dodgers, Dodgers,”  from what liberally might be called a crowd — only 32,212 fans at the place now called Oracle Park — were replaced by shouts of “Beat L.A.”

“I’ve been waiting for that hit in a Giants uniform,” said Longoria. “It’s been a year. It’s not for a lack of opportunity. I’ve been in situations. I was feeling good. I just haven’t been able to come through.”

Although he grew up in Southern California, Longoria had spent nine years with the Tampa Rays.

“Dodgers-Giants is a huge rivalry,” said Longoria, “but it’s new to me. It gives me chills when you’re out there and hear that kind of enthusiasm from the home crowd.”

Well, the temperature was in the high 50s and a Candlestick-type wind was blowing, but Longoria said that had nothing to do with the chills.

“I know my average is not good, but that doesn’t take away from my mentality in those situations. A bases-loaded double is cool.”

So, he said, is Sandoval starting at third, which is where Longoria normally is positioned.

“Pablo’s been swinging the bat good. I’m here to win. I’m ready off the bench. I’m happy to wait. I’m hitting .200 (actually .210). I can’t go into the office and ask why I’m not starting.”

What some of the media asked was why Bochy took out Giants starter Jeff Samardzija for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning of a 0-0 game. The manager had a quick response.

“We needed to score runs,” said Bochy.

They didn’t immediately, but Samardzija said he had no problem being pulled.

“After losing three in a row (to the Yankees) we needed to do anything to score runs. Another time I’ll go seven, eight innings. Anytime you win a close game, it’s awesome. It builds confidence.”

The Giants still are last in the National League West, hitting is poor and the pitching not what was expected — and now Derek Holland is on the injured list, Ty Blach having been called up from Sacramento.

“This is a game of momentum,” Samardzija said of baseball in general.

Whether the Giants have it is unclear, but they do have a victory over the Dodgers.

Something finally went right.



Kerr on Durant: ‘He’s the most skilled basketball player on earth’

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. — The question was of the present. The answer connected with the past.

Someone asked Steve Kerr whether he had seen anyone play as great in four consecutive games as has Kevin Durant, now the main star on Kerr’s team of stars, the Golden State Warriors.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


For Giants, on edge, wrong play and wrong pitch lead to defeat

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — They live on the edge. Or, as they did on this Saturday of wind, fog, sunshine and frustration, fall off.

Another team, the Dodgers for example, has the players and the punch to overcome mistakes, a burst of runs correcting whatever failures take place.

But the Giants do not. If they make the wrong call, the wrong play, the wrong pitch, they lose, as they did to the Yankees, 6-4, at Oracle Park.

If it seems the Giants were there, well, they weren’t. Until scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth, which didn’t prevent a second straight loss to New York but looked better cosmetically than getting shut out.

Still, it was a defeat, and shoved the Giants five games below .500, and we haven’t even reached May. Meaning the situation is apt to become a great deal worse, especially with no one in the starting lineup Saturday hitting above .280 and with Mad Bum, Madison Bumgarner, looking like Bad Bum.

But it was Derek Holland who threw the wrong pitches Saturday, most of all an inside fast ball to Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. Sanchez drove the ball 467 feet into the bleachers in left center, and like that, a 2-0 game was a 6-0 game.

Bruce Bochy wanted to take the blame. “It was my fault,” said the Giants' manager. “He (Holland) was ahead in the count, 1-2, and he still had his stuff. I gave him a chance to get through. He was making his pitches. He made a mistake.”

Holland said he deserved to take the blame, not the boss. “We were cruising,” Holland insisted. “One pitch took away a whole game. Those guys (his teammates) fought back. That’s what upsets me the most. Letting them down.”

These are upsetting times around the old ballpark. First is the Giants' incapability. Next is the attendance. There were only 33,071 on hand Saturday at what seemed like a marquee game, Giants-Yankees — and a great many in the crowd were cheering for the Yankees. True, it’s still only April, but it was the only game in the region, the Warriors and Sharks both idle Saturday.

Nobody expects the Giants to get a ton of hits and runs, and even in the championship seasons they won on pitching. Still, with Evan Longoria hitting .206, Brandon Crawford .207 and Buster Posey .247, you’re going to need near perfection from the pitchers. It doesn’t exist.

Bumgarner, who started Friday night, gave up two runs in the first. Bumgarner and Holland, two of the Giants big three, each are 1-4. Those combined eight losses are exactly half of the San Francisco total.

Maybe that’s why Bochy chose to squeeze as much as possible out of Holland, to get him confidence as much as to get the team a win. “But his margin of error is not real big,” said the manager, which of course only reflects the Giants as a whole.

San Francisco invariably is playing from behind, trying to extricate itself from a quick deficit.

The Giants did show resolve in the final inning Saturday, Yangervis Solarte hitting a three-run homer and then pinch hitter Erik Kratz hitting a bases-empty home run.  

“One pitch takes us out of the game,” said a rueful Holland. “I was told by an old pitching coach you’re one pitch from greatness and one pitch from humility.”

These are humbling days for the San Francisco Giants.