Giants Bullpen Collapses Again, Lose 3-2 Against St. Louis

By Shawn Whelchel

AP photo: A picture says a 1000 words in one game earlier this season San Francisco reliever Santiago Casilla was angry for being lifted but in this Saturday photo Santiago sympathizes with what his manager Bruce Bochy has to do and lifts Casilla from the game against the St Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO- Just as the team looked to have turned a corner on its second-half struggles, the Giants bullpen collapsed yet again to drop a tight game to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.

St. Louis strung together two runs on two hits and a walk to steal a 3-2 lead from the Giants in the top of the ninth. And for a manager renowned for his ability to work his bullpen, a questionable decision at the game’s most crucial moment proved to be the Giants’ downfall.

Yet again, Bruce Bochy put his faith in former closer Santiago Casilla to close out a tight ballgame. And yet again, he was mistaken in doing so.

Clinging to a one-run lead, Casilla entered in the bottom of the ninth win a man on first. An ill-advised walk and a seeing-eye single later and Casilla had blown his ninth save attempt of the season.

After warming up Hunter Strickland, Bochy would elect to replace Casilla with Matt Reynolds, who would lose the lead on a sacrifice fly to his first batter of the night. San Francisco would threaten with two singles in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t complete the comeback attempt.

The collapse erased what what a magnificent pitching performance by starter Jeff Samardzija, who allowed just one run on seven hits across 6 2/3 innings. Perhaps even more damaging is the fact that both the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers won their games, hurting the team’s chances at a playoff birth.

After the game, Bochy talked about Samardzija’s dominant outing.

“He did a great job. He gave us all we needed and it’s a great start, a quality start,” said Bochy. “Leake, we couldn’t do a whole lot off of him but we found a way to get a couple runs, and we’re a couple out away from winning the ball game. That’s been part of our issue.”

After the game, Bochy said that his decision to pull Romo- who started the ninth inning- in favor of Casilla was an attempt to play the matchups based on history.

“We said if it got to Molina there, he’s had success off of Romo, and Casilla would be a better matchup,” said Bochy. “For some reason, Molina has seen the ball pretty good off of Sergio (Romo), and you go off history. That’s why the change was made there”


After suffering at the hands of yet another two-out-rally by the Giants last night, the Cardinals looked to flip the script on Samardzija, jumping out to an early lead when Brandon Moss parked an opposite field shot with two down in the first inning.

As they’ve done so often lately, the Giants’ bottom half of the order-anchored by the streaking Hunter Pence- kicked off the scoring for San Francisco on Saturday night. The Giants got on the board after a deep drive by Brandon Belt to the center field warning track would plate Pence, who singled before him.

The Giants threatened to put up another crooked number, but a spectacular diving play by Cardinals’ first baseman Matt Adams would end the inning by doubling up Eduardo Nunez at first.

San Francisco would look like the team of old in the bottom of the fifth frame, as third baseman Eduardo Nunez would use his speed to steal two straight bags off the Cardinals after leading off with a single. The pair of swipes would set up a sacrifice fly from Samardzija to plate the go-ahead run.

After issuing his fourth walk of the night with two outs in the seventh, Bochy would elect to use his bullpen to close the books on Samardzija’s impressive night. Lefty Will Smith would do just that, getting pinch hitter Jhonny Peralta to fly out to deep right field to end the threat.

Samardzija would walk away with an impressive line that saw him allow just one run on seven hits through a strong 6 2/3 innings.

But the Giants’ bullpen woes would rear their ugly head to erase his strong effort. After getting the leadoff batter, Sergio Romo would promptly give up a seeing-eye single to allow the tying run on board.

In a surprising move, Bochy would elect to trust the struggling Santiago Casilla in a tight spot. Like so many other times, this would prove to be an unwise decision by the skipper known for his bullpen management.

Casilla would start his night off with an ill-advised walk to his first batter, Yadier Molina, move the tying run into scoring position. Casilla’s night would be short, but costly, as Randal Grichuk would follow Yadier with a single past the outstretched glove of a diving Crawford to tie the game at 2-2.

Reliever Matt Reynolds would then retire his next two batters, but not before a sac-fly by Kolten Wong would give the Cardinals their first lead of the game.

San Francisco would threaten with a two-out rally after Eduardo Nunez and Denard Span would lace a pair of singles, but pinch hitter Connor Gillaspie would hit a routine pop-up on his first pitch to end the game.





Earthquakes Draw In Crucial Match Against Sounders

By Shawn Whelchel photo: San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski scores his tenth goal becomes the first player to score ten or more goals in seven seasons as he faces off here against the Seattle Sound on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium

SAN JOSE, Calif.-The Earthquakes struck early, but failed to fend off a late surge from an aggressive Seattle Sounders team on Saturday night, settling for a 1-1 draw in a crucial game in the Western Conference race.

The draw between the Western Conference rivals caps off a frustrating four-game skid for San Jose in which the team has been held without a win while sitting in the 7th spot in the standings.

While the Earthquakes will certainly take the one point allotted to them in Saturday night’ tie, the frustration is mounting within an organization that’s on the fringe of being eliminated from the playoff race.

“It hurts,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “If you look at New York, Houston and even tonight, you walk off the field with two points out of those three games. It hurts you in the standings and it hurts because I think we should have had more.”

Entering the day just three points behind the red line in a tight race for the final playoff position, San Jose looked to snap their untimely winless streak with a relentless attack that kept Seattle on their heals through most of the early going.

San Jose tested Seattle’s net minder Stefan Frei early and often while scrapping their way to multiple set pieces early on in the match, sending multiple dangerous attempts towards the net that were just barely turned away.

But it would be none other than Chris Wandolowski who would snap the Earthquakes’ streak of 235 straight minutes without a goal, as the captain would flick a shot passed the outstretched hands of Frei in the 20′ minute after a nice touch by Jordan Stewart sent the ball towards the front of the net.

Wandolowski’s score would mark his 10th career goal against Seattle, the most by a single player in MLS history against the team.

The Sounders would respond with a tempered attack of their own, as Seattle’s Tyrone Mears threatened an equalizer after skipping a ball across the front of the San Jose goal just minutes later, but San Jose would escape the half holding their 1-0 advantage.

Entering the final half of play in a desperate bid to keep their own playoff hopes alive, the Sounders pushed forward against the San Jose defense with relentless pressure of their own, dominating the control of the game.

San Jose’s defense would eventually break on a costly mistake, allowing a free kick from Nicolas Lodeiro to squeak past goaltender David Bingham to notch things up at 1-1.

San Jose fought desperately for a last-minute score to reclaim the lead, sending multiple threatening free kicks and a botched strike by Chad Barrett towards Seattle’s net, but had their efforts turned away to end the night with just one point.

After the game, both coaches expressed dismay at the outcome that barely helped either of the two playoff hopefuls.

“You can’t creep up, you have to take big steps,” said Kinnear. “But right now we’re creeping instead of taking big steps.”

San Jose will look for the elusive three-point win next Saturday in the tough confines of the Colorado Rapids


Curry Drops 40 In Legendary Performance, Warriors Take 3-1 Lead.

By Shawn Whelchel

AP photo: Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry who led the Warriors in scoring in game four over the Portland Trailblazers is jubilant to be back in the line up

For fans of the Golden State Warriors, watching star point guard Stephen Curry drop 40 points on an opponent is something that could happen on any given night. But last night’s performance from the unanimous MVP of the league carried with it the type of legendary ethos that put’s him in the conversation with the likes of Michael Jordan and other playoff legends.

Returning for the first time since spraining his MCL in Game 4 of the Houston series, Curry was at the forefront of a resurgent effort from the Golden State Warriors, as he would score an NBA-record 17 points in overtime to notch a 132-125 win, giving his squad a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Curry was only supposed to play sparingly, if that, in his first return to action. But a uncharacteristic ejection from guard Shaun Livingston thrust him back into the thick of it in the second half. Curry didn’t disappoint, going on to secure yet another personal record while stomping any notion of momentum from a scrappy Portland team in the series standings.

Golden State trailed for most of the game, taking their first lead late in the third quarter. The two team’s exchanged baskets in a close contest until a late Harrison Barnes triple forced overtime.

From there on, it was the Curry show, as the sharpshooter went to work all over the court to put his first mark on the series. After giving his team the lead with a layup with just over two minutes to go, Curry would come down the court to nail a three from the top of the key, pounding his chest while stating “I’m back” to the Portland crowd.

Portland would be unable to make up the difference, being sent to the fringe of elimination following the loss.

Damian Lillard played big for Portland again, scoring 36 points on 9-for-30 shooting, with five of his buckets coming from behind the arc. Nearly all Portland starters would end up in double-figures besides Maurice Harkless, who finished with 8 points.

The game was a scrappy showcase from both teams who seemed to refuse to quit. But it was yet another notch in Steph Curry’s legendary belt, and showed how dangerous a team the Warriors are on the court with their healthy MVP knocking down buckets.

Should Curry be fully recovered from his knee injury-and by the looks of things last night it appears he is- last night may have been a dagger in Portland’s season.



Curry-less Warriors Down Rockets For 2-0 Series Advantage

By Shawn Whelchel photo: Golden State’s Klay Thompson goes for the high percentage points as Thompson help lead the team without injured Stephen Curry in game two on Monday night

Without the services of their injured MVP-Steph Curry-the Golden State Warriors banded together with a solid team effort that featured a cast of supporters stepping into the spotlight in order to take a commanding 2-0 series lead at Oracle on Monday.

The other half of the Splash Brothers tandem-Klay Thompson picked up the slack for his injured teammate, pouring in a game-leading 34 points in the second game of this playoff series, to secure a  115-109 win for the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

Showcasing the type of depth that has made Golden State a nightmare for teams all year long, a slew of other Warriors stepped up in Curry’s absence to offer the Rockets no reprieve from their ruthless manner of scoring. Andre Iguodala was just one of many who had done so, coming off the bench to score 18 points while shooting a lights-out 7-of-10 from the field.  Shaun Livingston- who replaced the injured Curry with his 11th career playoff start- did his part by contributing 16 points on an even better 7-of-9 from range.

The Rockets main source of offense came from James Harden, whose knack for getting to the free-throw line helped to contribute to his 28 total points on the night. Harden finished with 15 attempts, knocking in 13 free points. Dwight Howard attempted just seven shots on the night, connecting with five, in an effort that looked-at times- lifeless.

It wasn’t easy for Golden State, however. With just under ten minutes to go, the Rockets’ Jason Terry made it a one possession game on a pair of free-throws. But the Warriors responded with an 11-1 run that would ultimately put the dagger in the heart of any comeback attempts from Houston.

The Rockets looked more lively than they did in their stale game one, but were met with an answer almost every time they made a push against Golden State. The team would bend in the fourth, but would show the resilience that helped to make them NBA Champions last year by not breaking.

It was a resilient effort and a display of depth for Golden State, who finished with four starters in double-digits, and 37 points from the bench. The win also gives Curry extra time to heal his ailing ankle, as the Warriors don’t take to the court until Thursday in Houston. With a commanding 2-0 lead, head coach Steve Kerr could decide to give Curry an even longer break and rest his star again.

Giants Go Deep To Steal Series Finale From Dodgers

By Shawn Whelchel

AP photo: San Francisco Giants Joe Panik hits for a double in the sixth inning of Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.-The Giants entered Sunday’s series finale against the Dodgers just one home run short of leading the MLB. They used three of them to take three-of-four games from their rivals from down south over the weekend, completing yet another comeback with a 9-6 win.

Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan all went deep for the Giants on Sunday, leading to their fifth come-from-behind victory on the season that showcases the lineups old scrappiness with their newfangled depth throughout the order.

The 2016 are now the first team in franchise history to hit home runs in their first seven games, and the power surge has not gone unnoticed by skipper Bruce Bochy.

“It’s a team that’s gonna hit with more power. That doesn’t always mean home runs but I think if you look at the doubles, that’s gonna pick up, and throughout the lineup we have guys who can drive the ball. We’re not gonna rely on the long-ball but it certainly helps, particularly when you’re down five runs, it’s usually something that you need.”

Starter Johnny Cueto might have wished he was still in the confines of Miller Park after his second outing with his new team didn’t go over nearly as well as his first start of the season.

The quirky right-hander got knocked around for six runs on the day-including five in the first inning alone- but was picked up by his teammate’s at the plate. Despite his early struggles, Bochy kept faith in his new starter, and Cueto would rebound from a torrid start to give up just one more run over the next six innings before leaving with a chance at the win.

Although Bochy noted the tough first inning, the manager was ultimately impressed with Cueto’s resiliency and ability to bounce back after getting knocked around early.

“For him to end up going seven innings says a couple things. How tough he is, he’s a problem and he comes in there and gets a win after that. He was just a different pitcher after the first inning.”

Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir may not have given up runs in a bunch like Cueto, but the southpaw faired no better than Cueto, getting tagged for six runs over just four innings on seven hits. He was the first Dodgers pitcher to give up three home runs to San Francisco since 2004.

The Dodgers bats and the soggy AT&T turf dampened Cueto’s first start at home as a member of the Giants. After holding Los Angeles to 15 runs in eight career starts prior to Sunday’s game, the Dodgers tagged the 30-year old for five in the top of the frame.

Cueto allowed five hits, a walk and plunked one, while also slipping twice in the AT&T grass while attempting to field his position during that span.

But the Giants would showcase the power of their newfangled lineup, as they would erase Cueto’s miscues with the help of the longball.

Posey would kick things off in the third inning with a solo shot high into the left field bleachers to cut the Dodgers lead to just two. Two batters later, the newly-extended Brandon Belt would launch an equalizer of his own in the deep part of the yard, parking one over the center field wall near triples alley to tie the game.

Cueto, who had settled down after his wild first inning, would be tagged again by the Dodgers’ Corey Seager, whose ten game hitting streak would continue with a line drive single to plate Chase Utley in the top of the fourth to regain the lead for his club at 6-5.

The Giants would find an answer again, this time in the form of a blast from Pagan, whose ball would land just over the left field fence in the bottom half of the inning to notch things up again.

San Francisco’s bats stayed hot heading into the sixth, as Angel Pagan and Denard Span would reach base ahead of Joe Panik, whose seventh hit of the year was a two-rbi double that bounced on the center field warning track to give the Giants their first lead of the day at 8-6. Panik would come around to score on a deep sac-fly by Pence two batters leader to extend the margin.

Bochy’s continuing faith in his starter would be rewarded, as Cueto would settle in to strike out three batters while allowing just two hits and one walk over the next three innings. After escaping one last jam with a two-out liner to Pagan, Cueto would exit the game to a loud standing ovation from the AT&T Park crowd.

The Giants bullpen picked up where Cueto left off, with Sergio Romo and Josh Osich working a rather uneventful eighth inning before Santiago Casilla would down the heart of the Dodgers lineup in order to capture his second save on the season, giving his team a 9-6 final.

The win gives San Francisco sole possession of the NL West heading into a stint with the Colorado Rockies next week.

Warriors Keep Record Dreams Alive, Complete Comeback Against Memphis With 100-99 Victory

By Shawn Whelchel

Draymond Green was candid about his desire to chase history this week when asked about breaking the Chicago Bulls’ record for most wins in a season.

On Saturday, he showed just how serious he was with big plays down the stretch on both ends of the court to secure a hard-fought 100-99 win against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road.

After being down by double digits at multiple points throughout the dwindling fourth quarter, Green would answer the call for the struggling Warriors with a pair of consecutive and-1’s to cut into Memphis’ lead. Green’s presence would be felt again with a tip in off a Steph Curry layup to give the Warriors a one point advantage with just a minute to go, which would ultimately be the difference in the game.

But perhaps just as important as his offensive contributions was Green’s defensive efforts in keeping big-man Zach Randolph from scoring on the Warriors late in the game. Green forced two clutch misses from Randolph late in the game while disallowing Memphis to rely on their biggest scoring threat with the game on the line.

The efforts by Green erased what was at times a 10-point deficit for a Warriors team struggling to find the long-ball that is crucial to their success. Golden State shot just 10-for-36 from the field from beyond the arc on the night, with Curry failing to connect on a three-pointer in the first half.

But with a chance at history on the line, Golden State rose to the occasion with three’s from Curry, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes- whose shot would give the Warriors their first lead of the fourth quarter with just over 90 seconds left in the game.

Lance Stephenson had a chance to win the game for Memphis on a wild drive to the hoop against Klay Thompson, but help from Curry caused an errant layup to be tipped out to the corner, where Stephenson would hoist up a final hail mary shot that would bounce off the side of the hoop to go out of bounds with .8 of a second left, securing the win for Golden State on an inbound pass.

The difference in the game was the play of Memphis’ bench, who would outscore the Golden State reserves by 32-17. The Warriors also found themselves on the other end of the free-throw differential, with Memphis getting to the line for 18 points compared to their 12.

But despite the balanced scoring attack throughout the Memphis lineup, strong nights from the Warriors’ starters in Green (23 points, 11 rebounds), Thompson(20 points), Curry (17 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) and Barnes (14 points) saved what was a lackluster effort through three quarters for Golden State.

Matt Barnes would lead the scoring for the Grizzlies with 24 points on 17 shots, followed by Vince Carter with 15 points Stephenson with 13 of his own.

The win, which gave them their 71st of the season, was a record in its own right, as the 33 road wins ties the Bulls record for road victories in a single season. Golden State has one chance to claim sole possession of that record with their final road game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

San Francisco Giants Friday game wrap: Brown, Crawford Go Deep To Down Dodgers In A Wild Comeback Win

By Shawn Whelchel

AP photo: No hitter going? That’s all for you, as Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts takes Dodger starter Ross Stripling out in the eighth inning despite pitching a no hitter vs. San Francisco Giants

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.-After nearly being on the receiving end of a historic no-hitter, the San Francisco Giants’ bats came alive late in the game to launch two home runs that would give the home team 2-0 series advantage over their rivals from the south.

After mustering just three baserunners through seven innings-all on walks- Trevor Brown’s homer in the eighth and Brandon Crawford’s long ball in the 10th would send the rain AT&T Park crowd home on a high note after the hometown squad would take both a no-hitter and a win away from the Dodgers on Saturday for a 3-2 victory.

Dodger rookie Ross Stripling put on a dazzling display of offspeed pitches mixed with solid fastball location that looked to put the Giants on the wrong side of a century old record for being no-hit by a debut pitcher.

But after completing 7 1/3 with a no-hitter in tact, a questionable move by manager Dave Roberts to pull the streaking youngster would lead another rookie to the spotlight instead.

The Giants first hit of the game would prove to be a crucial one, as C Trevor Brown’s first career home run would not only break up the Dodgers’ impending no-hitter, but would look to breathe new life into a stagnant Giants offense and send the game into 2-2 tie in the 8th inning.

Crawford would follow up the rookie’s display with an opposite shot of his own to lead off the 10th inning, launching his second career walk-off home run into the left field bleachers to hand his team the win.

The combination of home runs would see a Los Angeles kid in Brown hurt his hometown team, and a Bay Area native deal the finishing blow to his long-standing rival.

Lost in the fray of home runs and near no-hitters was Matt Cain’s impressive return to the mound. After a pair of injury marred seasons that saw the former ace hit the disabled list, the workhorse made a triumphant comeback in his first start of the season, surrendering just six hits over six innings of work while giving up just two runs.

The back of the rotation for both clubs saw strong outings from the returning ace in Cain and the newcomer Stripling. Both pitchers worked through the opposing lineups masterfully, while holding each team to just three runners in scoring position through the first five innings.

The duel was an encouraging sign for both clubs, as the former ace in Cain looked to rebound from injury-marred and ineffective seasons for the Giants, while Stripling looked to add some back-of-the-rotation punch for the Dodgers. But the Dodgers gained the advantage after five innings, as an RBI single from catcher A.J Ellis ended Cain’s scoreless streak after Joc Pederson came around to score following a leadoff double.

The Dodger’s young shortstop Corey Seager would pile on the damage with a two-out RBI single up the gut to make it a 2-0 deficit for Cain before he would escape the inning with a flyout to Justin Turner.

Meanwhile, Stripling continued his strong effort by mixing using an effective mix of offspeed pitches and fastball control to keep Giants runners off the base path, with just  two runners coming on consecutive walks through six innings.

The 26-year old looked to run into trouble heading into the 7th inning after issuing a leadoff walk to Hunter Pence, only to fall behind to Brandon Belt 0-3. But the Texas native rebounded by inducing a double-play ball from Belt, which was followed by a weak grounder from Matt Duffy to keep the no-hitter in tact.

Stripling looked to continue his quest to become the first rookie to throw a no-hitter in over a century during his debut, but after issuing a one-out walk to Angel Pagan, new Dodgers manager showed his short leash by yanking the youngster after an impressive debut.

The questionable move by manager Dave Roberts would come back to haunt the Dodgers, as Brown-who got his first start of the young season- would launch a two run home run off of RP Chris Hatcher to tie the game in the bottom of the 8th just moments after Stripling’s departure.

The Giants would work another runner into scoring position, before Hatcher would end the threat. But not before Brown’s longball would breathe new life into the ballgame.

Just as they had done the day before, the Giants would complete their comeback with a dagger of a homerun, as Crawford would connect with a 1-0 pitch from reliever Joe Blanton to secure the second straight win for the Giants against their NL West rivals.

The Giants look to make it three straight over the Dodgers tomorrow, as aces Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw square off in an afternoon start.

Earthquakes Force Draw With A Late Score Against D.C

By Shawn Whelchel

SAN JOSE, California-The San Jose Earthquakes nearly avoided dropping their second consecutive game after returning home to Avaya Stadium on Saturday night, as some late game heroics saw the retro-clad home team escape with a 1-1 draw against D.C. United.

After 87 frustrating minutes that saw San Jose squander multiple looks at the net, the Quakes finally broke through their string of misfortunes when Adam Jahn made a sprinting strike off of a beautiful cross from Shea Shalinas to notch the Quakes one and only goal.

The goal would be all San Jose needed to avoid consecutive losses after a 3-1 downing in Los Angeles two weeks ago.And while the outcome isn’t ultimately what head coach Dominic Kinnear would have hoped for, it was a welcomed sight at the end of a trying effort.

“I though the effort tonight was great. Ties aren’t the same, they’re a little bit different where if we got scored on late, the feeling would have been sickening. But it does give you a lift when you score late and you can get something.”

The score came from an unlikely hero in Jahn, who played a game-low eight minutes. But Kinnear said that the substitution was intended to take advantage of his height to break the opposing defense.

“I thought with Adam we could get a little more territory…I think at that time it helped to have Adam’s height and his eagerness to get on the other side of crosses. Good for him.”

Despite being the aggressors early and often, the San Jose Earthquakes couldn’t find the back of the net in what turned out to be a frustrating first-half for the home team.

San Jose had multiple looks at the net, including tries from Tommy Thompson, Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amarikwa, but couldn’t cash in on the stumbling D.C. defense. But despite the aggressive pushes from the Quakes, it was United who struck first, as Patrick Nyarko took advantage of a momentary lapse in the San Jose’s defense to put the first goal on the board with a sprinter header past the outstretched hands of David Bingham at the 34′ minute mark.

San Jose would nearly add an equalizer just moments later off a beautiful feed from a Wondolowski header near the net, but Amarikwa would be caught jumping offsides to negate the goal. Nyarko’s goal energized the previous lackluster D.C squad, leading to another dangerous attempt from Fabian Espindola at the 38′ minute mark before the Earthquakes would retreat to the locker room at the half with a one score deficit.

The frustrations continued to spill over from the first half for San Jose, as the home team frantically sought to appease the loud Avaya crowd with a flurry of shots to open the second frame.

Alberto Quintero played spoiler to his team’s own cause on a three-man rush towards the net for San Jose. Quintero found himself alone on the left wing with two attacking Quakes on the far side of the pitch, but couldn’t chip the ball over Travis Worra for the score. Moments later, Amarikwa would put his second and third shots on the goal, only to be denied in back-to-back attempts. Both Tommy Thompson and Wondolowski would later find themselves in front of the goal, only to send lazy attempts into the chest of Worra in what seemed like a contest where the Quakes couldn’t buy a goal.

But with the time winding down on San Jose’s efforts, a pair of substitutes would breathe new life into San Jose’s lackluster offense. With San Jose seeming desperate for a solution, Shea Salinas would shake his man on the wing to send a cross towards the sprinting Adam Jahn, whose split-legged slide would add the equalizer for the Earthquakes in the 88′ minute.

The Earthquakes would add one last furious attempt to find the back of the net before the whistle would sound on stoppage time, sending D.C home still in search of their first win of the season, while sneaking away with a point of their own.


Wondolowski Header Hands Earthquakes A Win On Opening Day.

By Shawn Whelchel

photo credit: San Jose Mercury News– San Jose Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham (1) dives to make a save grabbing the ball away from Shkelzen Gashi (11) of the Colorado Rapids on Sunday

SAN JOSE–Chris Wondolowski’s header was all the San Jose Earthquakes would need to secure a win on opening day of the 2016 MLS season, as a strong defensive effort from David Bingham would keep the Colorado Rapids off the scorecard for a 1-nil victory at Avaya Stadium.

Bingham had an outstanding day guarding the net for San Jose, making five saves on 18 shots from the Rapids, while showing off his hands and athleticism repelling a second-half flurry from the visiting team.

San Jose would secure their lone goal with the help of a new face-and their old reliable captain-as Alberto Quintero would feed a beautiful ball into the cutting Wondolowski for the go-ahead score at the start of the second-half. Despite a second-half outburst from the Rapids which saw them line-up 13 of their 18 total shots on the day, San Jose walked away victors for their 13th consecutive match without a loss against Colorado.

The Quakes got off to a sluggish start on the slippery turf at Avaya on Sunday, doing most of their work on the defensive side as the Rapids looked to be the aggressors early on.

Bingham received no grace period to start the season, being thrust into action to stop multiple Rapids’ attempts throughout the half. Kevin Doyle and Dillon Powers-who accounted for three of the Rapids five first-half shots- sent a trio of dangerous balls towards San Jose’s net. San Jose’s offensive attack couldn’t offer Bingham an extended spell either, as Colorado dominated the time of possession at 57.1 percent throughout the first 45-minutes of play as well, keeping the 26-year old Bay Area native on his toes.

While Bingham was busy showcasing his good hands, Colorado goaltender Zac MacMath had a relatively easy going early on. Quincy Amarikwa broke free on a dangerous run towards the goal near the 33′ minute mark, but was thwarted by a well-timed tackle by Rapids defender Jarred Watts near the goal. San Jose would loft up a few lazy shots throughout the frame, but failed to seriously threaten in a lackluster opening half.

But the revamped Earthquakes would shake off the season-opening cobwebs to start the second half, earning their inaugural 2016 goal off the head of the man who put through 16 for the team last year.

Just seconds after the sound of the whistle, newcomer Quintero- who was loaned to the team from Lobos BUAP in February-would feed the cutting Wondolowski a well-placed ball that would find the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage.

San Jose would continue to keep their newfound intensity up, with both Wondolowski and Tommy Thompson nearly missing a second goal for their club. But with time running out, Colorado launched a furious attempt to find an equalizer against Bingham.

Marco Pappa nearly connected with the back of the net on two attempts, including a free-kick attempt and a dangerous header attempt at the 88′ mark that just scraped the left-side of the goal post before heading out of bounds. Dominique Badji would also threaten the Earthquakes lead with a dangerous sprint up the middle of the pitch for an uncontested try that sailed into the second deck. Badji would represent the Rapids last attempt before game’s end as well, with Victor Bernardez showing some defensive prowess to stop the midfielder’s attempt before Bingham would make his fifth and final save.

The win represents the second-straight opening day victory for the Earthquakes at Avaya, and sets them off on the right foot for the 2016 MLS season. San Jose has a week off before facing the Portland Timbers on March 13 at 4:00 p.m.

Warriors Withstand Hawks Comeback, Get Historic 50th Win.

By Shawn Whelchel

With the aid of a third quarter outburst, the Hawks nearly played spoiler to the Warriors historic night. But the Splash Brothers found the bottom of the net late in the game to secure their record-setting 50th win of the season with a 102-92 victory in Atlanta.

The Warriors path to becoming the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history got off to a good start Monday night, with the squad jumping out to a 19 point lead at the half. Atlanta entered the locker room room looking as if they had no answer for Golden State on either end of the court.

But the Hawks refused to rollover, using a third quarter flurry to turn the tables on Golden State, effectively giving them a taste of what they’ve done to so many other teams during the final six minutes of the frame. Facing their largest deficit of the game- at 23 points- Atlanta broke out for a torrid 28-6 run before closing out the third, reigniting their team and the crowd at Philips Arena.

Atlanta would use their momentum to jump out to an early three-point lead in the fourth before Golden State would regroup and refocus their efforts. With the game slipping away from them, the Warriors’ big players would go on to make big plays, as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would hit some crucial shots-including Thompson’s three ball to regain the lead- to shift the tide in their favor. Aiding Thompson and Curry’s efforts in the backcourt, C Andrew Bogut would use his size to come up with key blocks and a steal down the stretch, helping to stymy the Hawk’s scoring outburst before they sizzled out to just 17 points in the final frame.

Curry lead all scorers with 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting in the hard-fought win, followed by Thompson’s 27 points. Hampered by a nagging achilles injury, Bogut would put through just 3 points, but came up big for Golden State with his fourth quarter defense.

Following an interesting night against the Clippers, it was the second consecutive game that Golden State nearly lost control of. Part of this came at the Warriors insistence to live-and die- by the three ball. The tone was set early after a wide-open Curry passed up an easy look under the net to kick it out to a waiting Draymond Green behind the arc for the bucket. The Warriors would finish the night with 45 attempts from downtown, connecting on just 31.1 percent of those tries. Golden State’s 1-for-11 shooting from three point range in the third was part of their downfall, but Thompson and Curry’s sharpshooting in the fourth also helped to salvage the game.

Golden State’s win keeps them in contention to surpass Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bull’s record of 72 wins. The Warriors’ road trip continues with a matchup against the Miami Heat on Wednesday at American Airlines Arena.