Dodgers avert sweep behind Kemp and Ramirez

By Jeremy Kahn

Matt Kemp did something against Matt Cain in the series finale between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants he last did during the 2012 season.

Kemp hit his first home run at Dodger Stadium since September 30, 2012, when he hit one off of Jorge De La Rosa of the Colorado Rockies, a span of 140 at-bats.

Behind Kemp , who added another home run in the bottom of the fourth inning and Hanley Ramirez, who also hit two home runs, as the Dodgers were able to salvage the series finale, defeating the Giants 6-2.

Kemp planted a Matt Cain pitch into left field pavilion in the bottom of the second, as Cain gave up his first home run of the season after giving up a career-high 23 last season.

In his next at-bat, Kemp hit a two-run home run following a double by Adrian Gonzalez, giving the slugger his first multi-home run game since September 29, 2012, also against the Rockies.

It was the sixth multi-home run game of Kemp’s career.

Ramirez got into the act in the bottom of the fourth, a home run that was measured at 425 feet that landed in the left field pavilion, just like Kemp’s second inning blast.

The shortstop completed his 15th multi-home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, as he connected off of Giants reliever David Huff.

Cain, who lost for the first time this season, pitched six innings, allowing five runs and six hits, striking out three and not allowing a walk.

The Giants got on the board in the top of the sixth inning, as Brandon Belt hit his fourth home run of the young season and then Hunter Pence hit a solo home run of his own.

Cardinal Season Comes to an End, Losses to Connecticut in National Semi-Finals

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal played their final game of the 2013-2014 season on Sunday night after they were defeated by Connecticut 75-56 in Nashville.  The Cardinal were seeking their third National Championship in school history and their first one since 1992, however they fell short in their sixth trip to the final four in the past seven years.  Sunday also marks the third time in four years that the Cardinal have fallen in the National Semi-Final.

The Cardinal controlled much of the first half.  The Huskies got on the board first with buckets from Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson to go up 4-0.  Chiney Ogwumike got on the board first for the Cardinal with a jumper of her own.  Connecticut would get the lead back up to four, until Stanford went on a 7-0 run to give them their first lead of the evening with 16:09 remaining in the half.  The Cardinal held the lead for 12 minutes until Stephanie Dolson tied it up at 22 with four minutes remaining.  The 12 minutes marked the longest stretch of time this season that Connecticut had trailed.  Stanford pushed their largest lead to six, marking the second highest lead a team had on Connecticut all season.  The Huskies continued their run, extending it to 14-0 before Stanford was able to answer with a bucket of their own.  UConn went into the half with a 28-24 lead.

Stanford fell apart in the second half, as Connecticut started the second half with a 5:46 16-3 run.  The three points came from a rare three-pointer from Ogwumike.  The run would be give enough of a lead for UConn to ride out the win.  The Cardinal wouldn’t be able to fight their way back.

Amber Orrange led the way for the Cardinal with 16 points, she also added five assists in the losing effort.  Ogwumike wrapped up her Stanford career with her 25th double double of the season, as the expected 1st overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft finished the game with 15 points and ten rebounds.  Lili Thompson wrapped up the double figure Cardinal scorers with 12 points, eight of which came in the first half.

The Huskies saw all five of their starters get into double figures.  Player of the Year nominee, Brianna Stewart led the way with 18 points.  Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis contributed 15 points, all of which came in the second half.  Hartley shot four of 12 from the field to finish with 14 points.  Both Jefferson and Dolson finished the game with ten points each to cap off the double digits scorers.  Kiah Stokes also came off of the bench to add nine points in 22 minutes played, as the Huskies used only six players in 39-minutes of the game.  In the last minute, substitutes Saniya Chong, Tierney Lawlor, Briana Pulido and Brianna Banks replaced the starting five.

Connecticut remains undefeated at 39-0 and advance to their school’s ninth National Championship.  Next up for the Huskies is another undefeated team in Notre Dame (37-0), who beat Maryland 81-67 in the other National Semi-Final game.  Tuesday will mark the first time ever, where two undefeated teams will battle it out for the National Title.  Connecticut also joins their men’s team in the National Championship, as the men’s team will be going up against Kentucky for the men’s title.  Both Connecticut team’s won the title in 2004, and have a chance to do it again just ten years later.  They remain the only school to accomplish the feat.

Stanford finishes their season with a record of 30-4 and some uncertainty in next season, as it will be the first one since 2008 where an Ogwumike will not be on the team.

 

Kings come up short versus Dallas 93-91

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Photo credit: Garrett Ellwood

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Heading into Sunday’s game with the Dallas Mavericks, the Kings had to answer two big questions. First, how would they bounce back after being humiliated by the Warriors 102-69 on Friday night? Second, how would play versus Dallas – a team in a three-way fight for the final two spots in the Western Conference Playoff race?

The Kings did bounce back from Friday night in a big way. Sacramento took Dallas down to the wire but ultimately came up short losing to the Mavericks 93-91.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael said, “It’s real simple. We’ve been in a lot of close games this year and we have to find a way to stop beating ourselves.” Malone was frustrated with his team’s rebounding and lack of second-chance points.

The Kings defense held Dallas to just 40.4-percent (36 for 89) shooting for the game but allowed the Mavs to shoot 41.9-percent (13 for 31) from beyond the 3-point line. Dallas hit five of those 3-pointers coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter which propelled them to the win.

The Kings were much improved on the ball handling side. They committed just 13 turnovers and recorded 21 assists. The problem for Sacramento was the 13 turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Mavericks. Dallas scored more than one-half of their points on turnovers and 3-point conversions.

The Kings were led by Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Gay was the leading scorer in the game with 32 points, and he added eight assists. Cousins recorded his 49th double-double putting up 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gay and Cousins put the team on their backs and tried to carry them to victory.

Ray McCallum led the Kings on the point for the seventh straight game as Isaiah Thomas was still unavailable on Sunday. McCallum played all but 19-seconds of the game. He scored eight points and added nine assists. McCallum also had four rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. He turned the ball over just three times.

Travis Outlaw was active all game and hit two key 3-point baskets in the final period to keep the Kings in contention for the win.

As a team the Kings shot 47.4-percent (36 for 76) from the field. They shot just 27.8-percent for 3-pointers. Sacramento shot 70.0-percent (14 for 20) from the free throw line. It was a game where literally one 3-point basket or three additional free throw conversions wins the game for the Kings.

The Mavericks were led by former Warrior Monta Ellis. Ellis scored 23 points off 19 shots, hit two 3-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and recorded four assists. Vince Carter had a productive game scoring 17 points in just 24-minutes of play. Carter was four of nine from 3-point land. Dirk Nowitzki put up 15 points on 17 shots in the game. Jose Calderon added 14 points that included four 3-pointers.

The Mavericks turned the ball over 10 times and allowed just eight points off those turnovers. Dallas out-rebounded the Kings 45-40.

The Mavericks record improves to 47-31 with the victory and has them in seventh place in Western Conference Playoff standings. Dallas now has a two game lead over eighth place Phoenix.

Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle said after the game,” We knew it was going to be a dog fight but the good thing is that we stayed together.  Dirk Nowitzki came in and made some big free throws at the end, but they came down and got a returned shot at one point. We’re happy with the win but we need to do much better.”

The Kings have five games remaining in the 2013-14 season and three of them are home games. Up next for the Kings is the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday in Sacramento. The Kings will be trying to avoid the season series sweep as the Thunder have won the previous three meetings. Sacramento will then go on the road to take on the Trail Blazers in Portland on Thursday. The Kings are 1-2 on the season versus the Blazers. Sacramento will then head to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday before heading home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves next Sunday.

Peja Stojakovic was in the house on Sunday afternoon as the Kings continue to reconnect with the star players from the past.

Sharks get Shutout out by Predators

By: Phillip Torres

SAN JOSE-The San Jose Sharks (49-21-9) hosted the Nashville Predators (35-32-11) on Saturday night at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Predators defeated the Sharks 3-0 on their home ice in a game that was controlled by Nashville throughout the contest. The first period was a great defensive display by both teams were able to hold each other scoreless.

The Predators won the game with their great play in the second period of the game. An offensive explosion by Nashville gave them a 3-0 lead going into the third and final period. Patric Hornqvist started off the scoring at 3:48. Hornqvist’s wrist shot found the net past the stick side of Sharks’ goaltender Antti Niemi. Hornqvist stood right in front of net as he received the rebound off of teammate Colin Wilson. Wilson and Matt Cullen earned the assists on the play.

Hornqvist doubled the lead with his second goal of the game at 8:59. The slap shot goal was assisted by Nick Spaling and Calle Jarnkrok. The goal was Hornqvist’s 20th goal of the season. Nashville put up another goal at 13:16. Roman Josi scored the last goal on a backhanded shot to make it 3-0. The score held up at 3-0 and the Sharks were not able to pull back into the number one seed in the Western conference.

Carter Hutten made 35 saves for the Predators on the night as he recorded the shutout and earned the victory. Hutten was awarded the first star after the game and helped the Predators continue there playoff push.

San Jose will be back on the ice on Wednesday as they will be hosted by Anaheim Ducks in Anaheim. The puck will drop at 7:30 pm.

What Might Have Been: Why the Sharks Wanted to Avoid the Kings

By Mary Walsh

After the 3-0 loss to the Nashville Predators Saturday night, the odds are pretty slim that the San Jose Sharks will face anyone but the Los Angeles Kings in the first round. Facing the Kings carries an expectation of excessive wear and tear. But there are more reasons than that for the Sharks to have preferred a different opponent for the first round. It is worth looking at how they match up against the Kings, as opposed to the Wild and the Stars, the most likely Wild Card candidates.

The Sharks have beaten each of the three teams twice this season, but they lost to the Kings three times, and only once to each of the other two. All three games against the Stars went to overtime, and except for one 4-1 loss, all the games against the Kings were one goal games. Only the games against the Wild were mostly two-goal games.

The Sharks hold a slight lead over the Stars in goal per game, made more slight on Saturday. The Sharks now average 2.90 to the Stars’ 2.88. The Kings and the Wild trail both teams significantly.

On the defensive side, the Kings gave up the fewest goals per game this season, with a miniscule 2.05. The Sharks are not far behind in the rankings at fourth. Numerically, the gap is bigger with the Sharks averaging 2.34 goals against. The Wild are just a hair behind that with 2.38. Dallas is the conspicuous standout here, having given up an average of 2.77 goals per game.

The Wild is the only one of the three with better power play results for the season, at 18% to the Sharks’ 17.6%. The Kings come close in penalty killing at 82.9%, but the Sharks still did better there than any of the possible opponents with 84.4%.

The Sharks and the Kings are first and second in faceoffs, while the Wild are 13th and the Stars 15th. The Sharks would have had a clear advantage against either of the latter there.

In goaltending, the Sharks’ starter Antti Niemi only has the advantage over the Dallas goaltenders. The Kings’ Jonathan Quick has turned in another statistically excellent season. Even the Minnesota goalie carousel has produced better results on average. The Wild have had some bad luck with the health of their goaltenders, and they will probably rely on recently-acquired Ilya Bryzgalov to start the playoffs. Josh Harding has returned to practice but there is no timeline on his return to play. Minnesota’s backup, Darcy Kuemper, has played well in his rookie season but he is not ready to carry the full load of a playoff team. Bryzgalov has not played many games in the NHL this season but he has played pretty well, including a shutout of the Penguins Saturday.

The Sharks’ Alex Stalock has excellent numbers but has started fewer than 20 games and is unlikely to be the playoff starter. He has played extremely well, but in limited appearances against select opponents. It would be unreasonable to expect the Sharks to give him the edge over Niemi.

Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty left Thursday’s game against the Sharks after an odd collision, but it isn’t clear how long that will keep the Kings’ lynchpin blueliner out of the game. His absence would of course benefit the Sharks.

It certainly would have been a better matchup for the Sharks to play the Wild, unless the uncertain status of the Wild goaltending tripped the Sharks up as it seems invariably to do. Additionally, the Sharks have had trouble beating teams well below them in the standings lately. Would that carry over to the playoffs? Probably not, but it is something to consider as a faint consolation.

In any case, it all appears moot since the Sharks still trail the Ducks and only have three games left to overtake them. The Kings will most likely be their dance partner in the first round, with only home ice to bolster San Jose’s chances. If Tomas Hertl returns for the second round, and if Raffi Torres returns for the first, the Sharks still have a shot to go deep, but they will have to get by Los Angeles with a minimum of casualties.

Felix turns Coliseum into his kingdom again in A’s loss to Seattle

By Morris Phillips

King Felix’s kingdom? Yup, it starts in the visiting bullpen area at the soggy Oakland Coliseum and extends all the way to the pitching mound on the field to the West and on to the warning track to the East.

And yes, the Mariners’ ace was king of all he surveyed on Saturday, besting the A’s 3-1 and keeping the Oakland bats quiet until Jed Lowrie’s solo shot leading off the ninth. Felix Hernandez beat the A’s for the 16th time in his career and he’s now gone 10 consecutive starts at the Coliseum without experiencing a loss.

“We could have been hitting for a month straight, and today it wouldn’t have mattered,” Lowrie said. “It was his day.”

“The first seven innings, that might have been the best we’ve seen him,” manager Bob Melvin said.

According to Melvin, Hernandez’ fastball had extra life. Brandon Moss concurred with Melvin on Hernandez’s fastball, and saw a few too many nasty changeups as well. John Jaso caught King Felix’s perfect game in 2012 and he too highlighted Hernandez’s high velocity changeup.

And Felix himself said that he feels better at the beginning of a season than he ever has previously.

My pitches were looking good all day long,” Hernandez said. “I could throw them all for strikes.”

Dustin Ackley broke up a scoreless game in the fifth with a majestic two-run shot into the right field bleachers. Two batters, later Abraham Almonte homered off A’s starter Dan Straily as well. Straily came out smoking, striking out seven in first 3 1/3 innings. But this was the wrong day to be merely solid as a starting pitcher when matched against Hernandez.

This could have been a day for the A’s to fold their tents as another member of the AL West put their expensive, talented players on display. But after Lowrie homered in the ninth, Moss singled and moved to second on Hernandez’ wild pitch. Cespedes followed with a wicked shot that landed just foul beyond the left field foul pole. Two pitches later, Hernandez got Cespedes to fly out.

The A’s had another promising rally short circuit in the fourth when Cespedes struck out to end the inning with a pair of baserunners aboard. The A’s were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

On Sunday, the A’s turn to Sonny Gray to attempt to capture the rubber game of what is now only a three-game series.   Erasmo Ramirez will pitch for the Mariners.

NOTES: The grounds crew worked overnight to restore the field to a workable condition after the snafu regarding the faulty weather report and the decision to go without an infield tarp on Thursday night left the field to wet to play.  After going 16 seasons without a rainout the A’s had three in one week, including the scheduled spring training meeting with the Giants last Saturday.

 

Sandoval, Posey and Morse each go deep in win

{Giants} {MLB}

By Jeremy Kahn

Yes, the San Francisco Giants hit three home runs in the same game for the first time on the young season, but once again it was their pitching that came up huge in the long run.

Madison Bumgarner pitched into the seventh inning, allowing two runs on eight hits and the Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2 at Dodger Stadium.

In his last five starts at Dodger Stadium, Bumgarner is 4-1 with a 1.53 earned run average.

It was the fifth win in six games for the Giants over their division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks, where they won three out of four at Chase Field and now the first two games of this series over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run home run off of Paul Maholm in the top of the fifth inning that not only gave the Giants a 5-1 lead, but ended Maholm’s first start as a member of the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly replaced Maholm with Jose Dominguez, and the first batter Dominguez faced was Buster Posey and hit planted a Dominguez offering into the left field seats to give the Giants a 6-1 lead.

Michael Morse gave the Giants 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning, as he took a Maholm pitch and put it into the left field pavilion.

It was the first home run of the season for Morse, who is in his first season for the Giants and is playing for his fourth team in the last three years.

Sharks commentary: After rough end of March Sharks improve in first week of April

by Larry Leavitt

SAN JOSE–The Edmonton game was a pretty close game Tuesday night and it shouldn’t have been and the Oilers are a good team don’t get me wrong but the Sharks all season have played down to their level of their opponents and they had a two goal lead and let Edmonton back in and they didn’t put in a full 60 minute game. They let the Oilers back into it and it was a scary thing but at the end the Sharks held on to win by a goal 5-4.

The game should not have been as hard fought but a win is a win, the Sharks really do have a good team but at this stage they have to put all the puzzle pieces together. The Sharks have a lot of talent. The prepartion for the Sharks was good for this one. The coaches had them prepared at the morning skate for this one and some of the prepartion before each game is amazing.

They just haven’t back down in the last few games they go gack to the board and watch film and watch pass tendency of each player and each goalie. They look at at the last stop on goals or saves and on offense and they look at the goals against on opposing goalies to see if they were high or low and want to check out what the opposing goalies weaknesses are.

They’ll also check the last time the two teams played each other to see how they match up, there is a lot that’s going on in the background before a Sharks game. The problem with the Sharks is getting up for a game where their opponent is not a playoff team. When the came into play Thursday night against the Kings in the Sharks 2-1 win they knew coming in it would be a playoff atmosphere.

You might have to go back when the Sharks played the Philadelphia Flyers the Sharks came out with tenacity with a feirce look in their eyes and they came out hitting. This is a team that you want to come out and watch the Sharks came out physical, they play the body, they play the forecheck, and work hard in the corners and earn the puck and make things happen.

It’s just not a matter of showing up and start skating and see how it goes, they execute a lot of plays and watch and see what a lot of teams like to do. They really get an idea what the coaches want them to do and in the game against the L.A. Kings my first take on that game on Thursday night Kings head coach Darryl Sutter he really ordered a great move at the beginning of the game.

The Kings had played the night before it was a back to back game for the Kings and Sutter put in his back up goalie Martin Jones a native from Vancouver. If the Kings would have won that game they would have a lot of confidence going into the playoffs and they probably might face the Sharks.

Larry Leavitt does weekly commentary on San Jose Sharks hockey each week for Sportstalk radio

Warriors commentary: It’s a tale of two different meetings with the Spurs and the Kings

by David Zizmor’

OAKLAND–For the Warriors this past week they played in San Antonio the hottest team in the league and then turned around and played the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at the Coliseum Arena and held the Kings to 69 points. The Spurs have won 19 in a row and when the Warriors lost to the Spurs they weren’t playing with Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, or David Lee all of whom were out with injuries.

Then you add in the fact that the Spurs are the hottest team in the NBA and the Warriors playing in the Alamodome is the hardest place to play in the NBA where they lost on 111-90 on Wednesday night. The Warriors haven’t won a regular season game there since 1996. It’s just a rough spot and the Warriors were going to have a rough time of it.

For the game against Sacramento it was back home for Golden State and they got their big man back on Friday night as Iguodala was back for that game. It was one of those cases where the Warriors had a really good game and when the Warriors are good their tough to beat. The Kings are already a bad team and when a bad team has a particularly bad game chances are they’re going to get steamrolled and the Warriors beat the Kings by 40 points 102-69.

This game was out of hand by the second quarter and you can even say by the end of the first quarter, the Kings couldn’t hit a shot. Part of it was the Warriors defense, part of it was just bad play by the Kings, also part of it was DeMarcus Cousins was probably the best player with Sacramento and he left the game with about a minute and a half in the game.

With Lee and Bogut out of this game the Kings attacked the middle and the Kings game plan just completely fell by the way side, the Kings were just completely discombobulated and they just didn’t know what to do. The Kings whole offensive game plan disintegrated and the Warriors were able to harrass them enough to keep them from getting any good shots whatsoever.

The Kings simply weren’t prepared and part of that is the Kings are just not a good team and they don’t particularly have good talent and part of it was the Warriors were playing very good defense the combination of the two put the Warriors ahead by about 15 in the first quarter and by 30 by the end of the second and by the middle of the third quarter they were playing the back up guys.

It gave some rest for the Warriors starters and Stephen Curry didn’t play that much, he got his 13 points and exited to have an nice easy night and it was a good chance for the Warriors to get themselves right and give them a little more confidence going into this final stretch here in the last couple of weeks in April.

David Zizmor covers the NBA for Sportstalk radio

Warriors arena at Piers 30-32: SF Mayor Lee damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t on Prop B endorsement

by Ken Gimblin

SAN FRANCISCO–Former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and former candidate for San Francisco mayor Quentin Kopp (now a San Mateo County judge) asked for the San Francisco Giants, Golden State Warriors, Former mayors of San Francisco Dianne Fienstein, Frank Jordan, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom and current Mayor Ed Lee to join them in supporting Proposition B the height limitation measure for any development along the 7 1/2 mile waterfront.

Three big hopeful developers were on board the Warriors who want a new arena at Piers 30-32 plus a condo tower and hotel, the Giants who want to develop retail, condos, a hotel, a themed entertainment area and restaurants at the waterfront near lot A in the Giants current parking lot, and Forest City who currently owns property and a condo development that was formerly the Presido Public Health Hospital a veterans hospital on federal land at 15th and Lake Street in the City which is known today as the Presidio Landmark want to develop their other property at Pier 70 for retail and condo space.

Under Prop B development would be restricted to 40-105 feet in height unless voters vote in favor of a speciific project that would wave the height limitation. The city held an election last year on height restrictions Props B and C that were called the 8 Washington Condos and that was killed by the voters. The 8 Washington group wanted to develop at nearby Piers 30-32 new condos and hotels and after that election it’s going to be much harder to go to the voters and ask to lift the height restriction.

Lee is in a tough spot as the Yes on B campaign is working on him to endorse B and it would benefit San Francisco and that according to the Port Commission and the Giants in the long term and that the city would profit by $8.5 billion and $124 million for affordable housing fees. The Prop B measure made the ballot after more than double the required eligible ballots came in to put the measure on the ballot.

Acknowledging the momentum for Prop B and advised that Prop B will win Lee who at one time said the Warriors new arena would be a “legacy” to his administration has now turned around and said that he will not endorse Prop B nor would he campaign against it either because he doesn’t want to offend either side and that if he supported Prop B he would have well over 18,000 voters who got the measure on the ballot pleased that he’s with them on height limits.

If Lee was to stay in the pro delvelopment camp he would have such groups as the Sierra Club, Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and a lot of voters who want to protect the waterfront who will more than likely come out against Lee in his re-election bid for Mayor. It has been said even from Mayor Lee’s stand point that Prop B will pass in June and that any development at the waterfront will more than likely have to be approved by the voters.

Ken Gimblin is covering the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings arena developments for Sportstalk radio