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9:33AM

S.F. Examiner: After finally winning three straight, maybe the Giants are on to something

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

AT&T PARK — Maybe. That’s the only appropriate word. Maybe the Giants are about to play as everyone thought, as their manager Bruce Bochy conceded, to expectations. Maybe the breakout — their first three-game win streak of this so-far rotten season — is an indication.

Or maybe it’s just a tease.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner 

7:15AM

A telling loss for the Giants

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO -- One game, but a telling game. A game when the Cincinnati Reds took Matt Cain’s mistakes over the fence. A game when seemingly every time there was a line drive by one of the Giants it was right at someone.

A game when there was a sense of “Dustiny.”

Remember that word? It was coined by a Giants fan back in 2002 when Dusty Baker was the team’s manager and, until the sixth game of the World Series that year, fate was on their side.

Now Dusty is on the other side, managing the Reds, and so is good fortune.

Cincy didn’t win the opener of the National League Division Series, 5-2, Saturday night at AT&T Park because it was lucky. 

The Reds hit two homers off of Cain, who did not give up a run in any postseason game two years ago. The Reds had excellent pitching, especially when starter Johnny Cueto left after one batter because of a back injury. And, yes, the Reds had the breaks.

Cain drove a liner with the bases loaded in the second, but it was caught. Brandon Belt smashed a none-out ball with Hunter Pence on first – and Joey Votto leaped and turned it into a double play. Belt hit one to left in the sixth and Ryan Ludwick made a stumbling catch.

“Our guys never stopped going after the ball,’’ said Cain. “You can’t fault them.’’

Not at all. But this is baseball, and there are no style points. The oldest adage is “hit ’em where they ain’t.’’ The Giants hit ’em where they were.

And Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce hit them into the seats for the Reds, who now need only two more victories in this best-of-five playoff to move to the League Championship Series.

“This is one game,’’ said Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager, stubbornly fighting any feeling of despair, a feeling that except for rare moments – a home run by Buster Posey, a couple of wild pitches in the bottom of the ninth – seemed to affect the sellout crowd of 43,492.

“We have a lot of baseball left,’’ Bochy tacked on.

Giants fans can only hope. For certain, they have Sunday night’s game by the Bay – perhaps the last home game of the season – and Tuesday night’s at Cincinnati. Nothing else is certain.

Especially after Cain, the guy who threw the perfect game back in June, the guy who started for the National League in the All-Star Game, gave up the shot to Phillips leading off the second. The disbelief was nearly palpable. So was the disappointment.

“He wasn’t as sharp as he normally is out there,’’ Bochy said of Cain. “He left a couple of off-speed pitches out there. He was missing spots a little bit.’’

Something the Giants, so dependent on pitching, couldn’t afford. Not when they were getting shut out until Posey homered in the sixth. That jolted the crowd out of its misery and torpor.

If you don’t count sing-alongs to the Bee Gees – the Bee Gees, for heaven’s sake – Journey and Cab Calloway, the people in the seats did little other than merely occupy them. Maybe the Blue Angels’ flyovers earlier in the day were too much.

Clearly the Reds were too much for the Giants, although Bochy kept offering the could-have, should-have explanations.

“We hit balls hard,’’ said Bochy. That they did, with little result. “I felt we had better at bats than what it looked like. We had a tough night with balls. We didn’t have a lot of things going for us.’’

What they had was 11 men left on base, and that can be credited to Reds pitchers – six different ones, including Cueto who had only eight throws to home plate before hobbling off – as well as the Giants’ inability. San Francisco was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

“We nearly had the tying run on in the ninth,’’ said Bochy. True, but nearly doesn’t mean much. “I’m proud of the guys. We found a way to battle back, and we had two pinch hitters up there, and they got some good swings off. But we came up short.”

In the inning before that, with runners on first and second and two out, Gregor Blanco, playing in his first postseason game and having reached base three times, didn’t get a swing off. He watched a Jonathan Broxton pitch for strike three.

“It looked like a borderline pitch, and they got the call,’’ said Bochy. “Blanco thought it was outside, and it’s a tough break. Sometimes you have a great pitch thrown, and you can’t do anything with it.

“This is one game, and you hate to lose the opener, but these guys have been resilient all year, and it’s time for us to wash this off and be ready to be back at it (Sunday).’’

Nothing else they can do.

9:36AM

RealClearSports: Old-School Sparky Was One of a Kind

By Art Spander
For RealClearSports.com


In later years, the school was one of the more dangerous in Los Angeles, a place of guns and occasional gang wars. Football games had to be cancelled. Police had to be called.

It wasn't always that way at Dorsey High, in another era recognized for its diversity long before the word became a meaningful part of the social vocabulary.

Read the full story here.

© RealClearSports 2010