<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usThu, 28 Apr 2016 16:57:14 -0700Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:57:14 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Best Style Moves from the NFL Draft Red Carpet]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:16:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/nfl-AP_605228845364.jpg See all the best shots from the 2016 NFL Draft red carpet in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Counting Down to NFL Draft's Top Pick]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:51:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/217*120/04-14-2016-jeff-fisher-rams.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams will make the first overall pick of Thursday's NFL draft in Chicago, likely taking a quarterback to guide the team in its return to Southern California.

NFL: Rams Draft History

The Rams are expected to use that No. 1 pick, acquired in a deal with the Tennessee Titans, to draft a quarterback. Players on the short list appear to be Carson Wentz of North Dakota State and Jared Goff from Cal.

Team officials have declined say who they plan to pick.

"We're probably going to take an offensive player," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher at a pre-draft news conference.

Fisher said the selected player will likely be told just before the pick is submitted to the league commissioner, who will then announce the player's name at the event in Chicago.

The Rams moved up to No. 1 after the Titans agreed to give up the top pick in exchange for picks No. 15, 43, 45 and 76, and next year’s first- and third-round selections. Los Angeles also will receive the No. 113 pick in Round 4, and the No. 190 overall pick in Round 6.

The Philadelphia Eagles also traded up, securing the second pick and possibly a young quarterback of their own. The San Diego Chargers have the third pick.

Dallas follows right behind San Diego, and the Cowboys could be thinking defense or even running back if Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott suits their tastes. Two other intriguing selections in the top 10 belong to San Francisco and Cleveland. Both could be in the market for a quarterback such as Paxton Lynch; Colin Kaepernick has said he would like out of San Francisco, and the Browns, despite adding Robert Griffin III, always are looking for a QB.

The 49ers have the seventh spot, and the Browns, after trading down from No. 2, will go eighth.

Considering the mega-trades pulled off so far, the top 10 could look very different by the time Los Angeles opens the selection process. Not to mention how the rest of the 31-pick round (New England forfeited its pick in the deflated footballs saga) might go.

The Rams, who will play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in their first season back in Los Angeles after the move to St. Louis, have selected No. 1 overall five times in franchise history, including 2010 when they took Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.

The last time the franchise traded up for the No. 1 pick was in 1997, when they picked Hall of Fame offensive lineman Orlando Pace out of Ohio State.

Los Angeles will open the preseason Aug. 13 at home against the Dallas Cowboys before a Monday night game at Levi's Stadium against San Francisco to start the regular season.

The Rams will play their home games at the historic Coliseum on the USC campus until their new stadium in Inglewood is ready in 2019. 

The team accepted more than 56,000 season ticket deposits during a four-week campaign propelled by the announcement in January that the Rams will be returning to Southern California after leaving for St. Louis after the 1994 season. The team reported more than 5,000 deposits in the first five minutes that the site was live Jan. 18.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Kentucky Derby: Test Your Horse Race Knowledge]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:33:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_522153153543.jpg

The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby will be held May 7 at Churchill Downs, featuring spectacular hats, plenty of bourbon and some of the fastest thoroughbreds in the world. 

Known as the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports," the Derby is steeped in tradition and style. Grab a mint julep and a Derby hat and test your knowledge of the race with the quiz below.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Eliminate Rockets, Advance to Second Round]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:35:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/189*120/GettyImages-525183840.jpg

OAKLAND – With Stephen Curry watching from the bench, the Warriors took the floor without the reigning MVP and dominated the Houston Rockets.

Going wire-to-wire with barely a whimper of protest from the Rockets, the Warriors rolled to a 114-81 victory in Game 5 Wednesday night to win the first-round playoff series and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Warriors next face the winner of the Clippers-Trail Blazers series, in which Portland holds a 3-2 edge with Game 6 scheduled for Friday night in Oregon.

The Warriors spoke of not wanting to return to Houston for a Game 6 and it was apparent early that they meant it, much to the delight of the sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena. They took a double-digit lead early and never lost it.

Klay Thompson scored a team-high 27 points, with Shaun Livingston putting in 16, and Brandon Rush and Draymond Green finishing with 15 each.

The Warriors leaned hard on their defense, which limited Houston to 32.3-percent shooting from the field. James Harden scored 35 points on 12-of-23 shooting. His teammates combined to shoot 19-of-73, for 26.0 percent.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:

The honors for this one must shared among, though Livingston, Thompson and Green are in the center of the photo.

Thompson’s line: 27 points (10-of-14 shooting, 7-of-11 from beyond the arc) and three rebounds. He played 29 minutes, finishing plus-29 for the game.

Livingston’s line: 16 points (7-of-8 shooting), three rebounds and three assists. He played 29 minutes and also was plus-29.

Green’s line: 15 points (5-of-9 shooting, 2-of-5 from deep), team-high nine rebounds, team-high eight assists and two blocks. He played 31 minutes and was plus-32.

TURNING POINT:

After a Harden jumper pulled the Rockets within five (19-14) with 6:08 to play in the first quarter, the Warriors responded with a 16-2 run, going up 35-16 with 1:12 left in the quarter.

The Warriors during that stretch of about five minutes held Houston to 1-of-6 shooting, with four turnovers.

The Rockets never got closer than 13 over the remainder of the first half and got no closer than 16 after halftime.

INJURY UPDATE:

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (R MCL sprain) and F Kevon Looney (L hip surgery) were listed as out and placed on the inactive list.

Rockets: Sam Dekker (low back soreness) and F Terrence Jones (healthy) were placed on the inactive list.

WHAT’S NEXT:

The Warriors will face the winner of the Clippers-Trail Blazers series. Game 1 will be played at Oracle Arena, date and time to be determined.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers to Change Noise Levels at Practice After Complaints]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:39:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/49ers27.JPG

There’s a whistle followed by a series of heavy bass beats emanating from the San Francisco 49ers practice facility on Wednesday morning in Santa Clara.

However, after neighbors voiced concerns about the decibel levels, the team says it will turn the speakers inward during practice to help with neighborhood noise.

49ers representatives told NBC Bay Area players are currently taking part in a 10-week session of workouts, which occur Monday through Thursday during late morning. It’s common in the NFL to crank up the music during practice to simulate stadium noise, but the tunes are out of sync with some of Levi’s Stadium’s neighbors.

“My actual home actually shakes. The appliances shake. If I happen to have a glass sitting on my counter when the 49ers are practicing and it gets really loud, the glass actually shakes,” said Rita Miller, who has lived in the Primavera neighborhood since the early 1990s.

From Miller’s house, roughly three football fields away from the practice facility, the music peaks at about 80 decibels, according smartphone app Decibel 10th. That’s about as loud as a diesel truck passing by, which is inconvenient for people who work from home like Miller.

“I’ve actually had to go into a bathroom and shut the door so that I could actually hear,” Millers said, explaining she is often on the phone with elderly clients.

Across the street on Calle de Primavera, her neighbor Antonino Vergel de Dios also took steps to gain some peace.

“I had been planning to put in new windows, but I made it earlier because it’s really bothering me. It’s too much, you know?” Vergel de Dios said, explaining stadium noise during games does not bother him.

Neighbors say they had given up on making formal complaints because it rarely leads to change, but comments online caught the attention of newly-appointed Santa Clara City Council member Kathy Watanabe.

“The fact that people felt like they weren’t being heard – I thought this is not good. The community needs to know their concerns are not falling on deaf ears,” Watanabe said. She says she is meeting with the Santa Clara City Manager to measure decibel levels in the neighborhood if the noise becomes a long term issue.

Meanwhile, 49ers representatives say Thursday morning the speakers will be turned toward the stadium and neighbors should sense some relief. And say, if they don’t, call the team.



Photo Credit: LiLi Tan/NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[UC Berkeley Gymnast Headed to Rio]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 17:52:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/0427-2016-RyanPatterson.jpg

We are exactly 100 days away from opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in Rio.

For Bay Area athletes that means more training and perfecting performances. No one knows that more than a University of California, Berkeley gymnast who just found out he will represent his native South Africa at the games.

Ryan Patterson said going to the Olympics feels surreal, especially since he has dreamed of becoming an Olympian ever since he was 3 years old.

The UC Berkeley senior is the entire Olympic mens gymnastics team for South Africa, making him the first man from his country to qualify for the team in more than 50 years.

"I was extremely excited," he said. "It just made everything worthwhile that I have been training for during the past 18 years."

Patterson is an all-rounder, which means he is planning to compete in six events during the Summer Olympics in Rio in a sport where the bar is set higher than ever before. He is training more than five hours a day preparing for the games.

"When before a single flip was considered good, now athletes are doing a triple flip," said J.T. Okada, an assistant coach for Cal's men's gymnastics team. "And when double twists were good, now they are doing quadruple twists."

Patterson was born in South Africa, but grew up in Pacifica and graduated from Terra Nova High School. He said his favorite event is the high bar.

"It is the most challenging and pretty scary," Patterson said of the event. "It really gets your heart beating, but it's also fun."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[US Women's Hoop Team Named]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:16:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2016++Olympic+sue+bird.jpg

The 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will have a strong connection to the University of Connecticut.

UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team and several of its members have played for him at Storrs.

UConn alums Sue Bird, of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Taurasi, of the Phoenix Mercury, are two of the three captains leading the team. Tamika Catchings, of Indiana Fever, is the other captain.

Former UConn players and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles, of the New York Liberty, and Maya Moore, of the Minnesota Lynx, will be back, and UConn star Breanna Stewart is joining the team for the first time.

Another first-time member of the team is Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky, who was briefly a UConn Husky.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, both of the Minnesota Lynx, as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Angel McCoughtry, of the Atlanta Dream, and Lindsay Whalen, of the Minnesota Lynx.

Brittney Griner, of the Phoenix Mercury, is another first-time Olympian.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee has chosen the team, which is pending approval by the USOC.

“Obviously it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” Auriemma said in a statement posted on the USA Basketball Web site.

He has led the USA National Team to a 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it's the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team. But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders,” Auriemma said in a statement.

He said an influx of young players will be a great benefit this year and will set the stage going forward.

“They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women's National Team,” he said.

DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will assist Auriemma during the 2016 Olympic Games.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held from Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[If He Slides to No. 7, Linebacker Myles Jack Will be 49ers' Pick]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 09:21:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/175*120/MylesJJJJ.jpg

The 49ers have so many needs – offensive line, wide receiver, quarterback, defensive line, linebacker and in the secondary – that it’s hard to predict which direction general manager Trent Baalke will go with his first-round pick Thursday night.

But after so much speculation for so many weeks and months, here are a few predictions:

1 – Baalke will have the urge to trade down in the draft to pad the 12 picks he already has for the seven-round selection process, but he won’t. He’ll stay with the No. 7 choice overall and select one of two players, UCLA linebacker Myles Jack (if he’s still available) or Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.  Jack may be the most talented defensive player in the draft, yet his stock has fallen in recent weeks because of speculation that the cartilage problem in his knee is, as one source recently told a reporter, a “time bomb.” If Jack slides to seven, Baalke will take him. He's a dynamic, energetic playmaker who could put a charge into the defense. If Jack is gone, he’ll go after Buckner, a 6-foot-7, 291-pounder who could team with former Oregon teammate Arik Armstead to give the 49ers a duo of dynamic Ducks at defensive end in the 3-4 base defense.

2 – In the second or third round, the 49ers will select a quarterback for the future, possibly Connor Cook of Michigan State if Cook is still on the board.

3 – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be traded at some point Thursday to the Denver Broncos to clear the decks for holdover Blaine Gabbert to be the No. 1 QB going into this season, with a rookie – Cook? Dak Prescott of Mississippi State? – watching and learning until he can take over for Gabbert. The 49ers can’t continue this offseason with the Kaepernick issue hanging over their heads. At this point, because Kaepernick has declined to say he’s eager to stick around and run Chip Kelly’s spread offense, it’s time for Baalke to send Kaepernick elsewhere.

The first round of the NFL draft will be televised by ESPN and the NFL Network Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. Rounds 2-3 will be televised Friday starting at 4 p.m., with Rounds 4-7 on Saturday starting at 9 a.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A's Hill Throws Tigers a Curve with His Command]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 22:26:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-522992812.jpg

In predictable fashion, A’s left-hander Rich Hill was all too ready to pass the credit to others Tuesday night.

More than once in his postgame media session, he mentioned the pitch-calling of catcher Stephen Vogt as a key in Oakland’s 5-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

That’s consistent with Hill’s humble nature. He’s always looking to re-direct the praise elsewhere. But despite his best efforts, the way Hill has pitched in two starts on this road trip against two tough lineups commands the spotlight.

He was terrific over seven innings at Comerica Park, striking out eight, walking none and limiting the Tigers to just four hits. That comes on the heels of him striking out 10 in Thursday’s win that clinched a series sweep at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s really unpredictable in what he’s throwing, and sometimes even pitches he throws back-to-back are a little different in how they move,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters after Tuesday’s win. “I thought it was his best fastball we’ve seen, but it’s his breaking ball that keeps everyone off-balance. And just when you start to think about sitting on the breaking ball, he can get a fastball in there.”

Hill allowed two singles in the first inning but struck out the side. That included a fastball that got Miguel Cabrera swinging and a curve that caught J.D. Martinez looking. He made it all look rather effortless.

And that’s something to consider, because all you have to do is think back to spring training, and how nothing really came easy for Hill as he attempted to settle in with his new team. He had trouble commanding any of his pitches, even in one minor league game, and he was putting in extra work between starts to iron out some mechanical issues.

Then there was the erratic Opening Night start (which to his defense came on short notice), when Hill lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his A’s debut. But he’s rounded into form. Through five starts, Hill (3-2) has posted a 2.42 ERA and ranks third in the American League with 37 strikeouts, averaging 12.81 per nine innings. What impressed most Tuesday was the zero in the walk column. Being more economical with his pitches allowed Hill to work a season-high seven innings.

“It’s getting ahead, staying ahead,” Hill said. “Keeping the ball down in the zone, being able to throw the fastball for strikes, mixing in the curve ball and changeup and slider at the right time. That’s a lot of credit to what Steve (Vogt) has been able to do because his perspective is different from what I see.”

The storyline when the A’s signed Hill to a one-year $6 million deal in November was whether they were going out on a limb considering he’d only made four starts in the majors since 2009. Granted, those starts were spectacular as he posted a 1.55 ERA and one shutout for the Boston Red Sox last September. But it was still an extremely small sample size.

Through five starts, the 36-year-old Hill is proving his signing to perhaps be a very wise investment.

“I think this was similar to the outings he had toward the end of last year,” Melvin said.

**

Keeping an eye on another potential impact addition to the A’s rotation, right-hander Henderson Alvarez went two innings and gave up one unearned run in a rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on Monday against New Orleans. He threw 40 pitches, and Melvin told reporters that Alvarez hit 94 miles per hour with his fastball.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cueto Shuts Out Padres, Strikes Out 11]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 21:57:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-524732280_594_screen.jpg

Johnny Cueto had it all working for the Giants Tuesday night as he struck out 11 in a complete-game shutout of the Padres.

The Giants won 1-0 at AT&T Park.

The outing was Cueto's longest as a Giant.

The Giants didn't have a hit through four innings against James Shields, but broke through in the fifth. After Brandon Crawford led off the inning with a single, he was sacrificed to second by Cueto. Two batters later, Denard Span doubled high off the bricks in right center to bring in Crawford.

That was all Cueto needed. Over eight innings, he allowed seven hits and one walk, but induced two inning-ending double plays.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Visualizing the Olympics: Medal Counts & More]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 08:05:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-149332217-edited.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[Carr's Selection in 2014 Was Key to Raiders' Turnaround]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:42:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/raiders29.jpg

Sometimes it takes years to evaluate a team’s draft class, but that wasn’t the case for the Raiders’ class of 2014.

It was the first excellent group drafted by general manager Reggie McKenzie and its value was noticeable almost immediately.

And, as the Raiders prepare for this year’s draft that begins Thursday night, McKenzie can only dream of things falling into place as well as they did in 2014. That year, McKenzie was able to snag Buffalo linebacker-defensive end Khalil Mack at the top of the first round and then have Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr drop into his reach at the top of the second. McKenzie was able to get the best player available (Mack) and then fill his position of greatest need at QB with Carr.

And it was that particular sequence that has most helped McKenzie rebuild the franchise, says former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

That 2014 draft also yielded guard Gabe Jackson, defensive tackle Justin Ellis and defensive back-returner TJ Carrie. Then, in 2015, McKenzie pulled in more budding stars, including receiver Amari Cooper, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. and tight end Clive Walford, along with linebackers Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball.

But in Gruden’s view, it was the drafting of Carr that is paying the biggest dividends. With an up-and-coming quarterback, the Raiders now have a terrific young player at the game’s most important position that has remade the franchise’s image to the rest of the league. Now, says Gruden – now an analyst for ESPN – other players see the Raiders as an attractive, rising team.

"I think Reggie has done a really good job," Gruden said in a conference call with reporters leading up to Thursday’s draft.  "Obviously, the Derek Carr selection at the top of the second round is his signature, I think, acquisition. When you have a quarterback, as you know, your football program or city becomes a desirable destination for free agents.

"People want to go where they have a quality quarterback because they know they have a chance to win. I think Derek Carr and his performance over the past couple of years has made the Raiders, once again, a destination for free agents, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see that as an ex-Oakland Raider."

Cornerback Sean Smith sees it that way, too.

The former Chiefs standout signed with Oakland in free agency and one of the primary reasons was Carr.

"First of all, they’re young and explosive, and I think that’s something that will help take this team a long way, when we’re talking about the playoffs and championships and things of that nature," Smith said after signing his deal with the Raiders. "You definitely need a quarterback to have stability in that position first and foremost. I believe Carr is that guy."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Road to Rio: Join in Olympic Fever 100 Days Out]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 08:01:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gymnasts-olympics.jpg

The Rio Olympics are only 100 days away, and the buzz is all about who will represent Team USA.

While many athletes have earned their spots and a chance to bring home the gold, others will be vying for a place on the team over the coming weeks when swimming, gymnastics and other sports hold trials.

Golf returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century, and the sports world is full of predictions about who will be teeing off for the United States. But with each team limited to four players, many favorites will be staying home.

Then there is the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just concluded is causing microcephaly and other birth defects. Brazil’s health ministry has been working to ease visitors’ fears, but some athletes are weighing whether to give the Rio Games a pass.

As 10,500 athletes from across the globe prepare to compete in the first Olympics to be held in South America, here are some ways to follow along now:

Watch America's best earn a trip to Rio

Many spots on Team USA won't be finalized until just before before the Opening Ceremony. Trials for some of the most popular events — including swimming and diving, track and field and gymnastics — have yet to be held. 

That means you can watch your favorite athletes battle for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. On the calendar in June: diving in Indianapolis from June 18-26, men’s gymnastics in St. Louis from June 24-26, and swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3.

On the calendar in July: track and field in Eugene, Oregon, from July 1-10, and women’s gymnastics in San Jose, California, from July 8-10.

So far, about 100 athletes have qualified in sports from boxing to wrestling. By the time August arrives, more than 500 athletes will have made the team. NBC Olympics is keeping track of the competitors here.

Pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher became the first official member of the U.S. Olympic team last July when he finished third in the 2015 Pan American Games. The 23-year-old will compete in the Olympics for the first time. The modern Olympic pentathlon consists of swimming, fencing, riding and a combination of running and shooting.

In the qualifying marathon in Los Angeles in February, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward won the top three places for the men, and Amy Cragg, Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan for the women.

Triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True have snagged spots, as have Yue Jennifer Wu, a table tennis competitor, and Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, all open water swimmers.

At the London 2012 Games, American women outnumbered American men in total medals and gold medals, and they are expected to dominate again in Rio. The U.S. women’s teams are world champions in basketball, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and water polo, and all eyes are on Claressa Shields, the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing at the London Games; gymnast Simone Biles, three-time world all-around champion; swimmer Katie Ledecky, an Olympic gold medalist at 15; and tennis star Serena Williams. 

In basketball, the final names for men’s and women’s teams will be announced by July 18. Among the finalists are LeBron James — though he says he is undecided about Rio — and Carmelo Anthony for the men’s team, and Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, both three-time gold medalists, for the women’s.

The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the Games, though the men’s team failed to, and its roster also must be announced by July 18.

And U.S. women’s water polo team goes to the Games as the reigning Olympic gold medalists. The team qualified by finishing in the top four in a tournament in March in the Netherlands, where it went undefeated and outscored opponents 123-35.

Who won’t be going?

Some of the country’s top stars will not be making the trip, sidelined by injuries and for other reasons.

Kobe Bryant announced he would not play in Rio after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he thought it was a younger man’s turn to play. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers also withdrew from consideration, while New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was forced out by knee and shoulder injuries.

In soccer, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe were both on the U.S. women’s World Cup team, but they will not be in Rio. Leroux is pregnant and Rapinoe is injured. Goalkeeper Hope Solo said in February that she would skip Rio if the games were being held then because of her fears of Zika.

Zika virus continues to be a worry

The CDC released travel guidelines that urge talking to your health provider about recommended vaccines and medicines, packing a health kit and monitoring travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take special precautions.

Much is still being learned about the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and which researchers have discovered can be transmitted sexually, not just through mosquito bites.

In February, the head of the World Health Organization praised the Brazilian government for its handling of the outbreak, but warned the situation could get worse before it gets better. Brazil has stressed that the mosquito population is much lower in August, the country’s winter.

Golf's Olympic comeback

Golf returns for the first time since 1904, when only the United States and Canada competed — and a Canadian won the individual gold.

Among the United States’ best prospects: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

But some of the world's top players have said they will be giving the Games a pass. Vijay Singh, from Fiji, was the first to say he would not play. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have pulled out, citing family and scheduling issues, and Adam Scott of Australia also pointed to a busy schedule when he said he would skip Rio.

Golf’s crowded schedule of championships has been a concern for players, but golf legend Jack Nicklaus is worried about the message they send by withdrawing.

“If the guys don't want to participate, then we might not be in the Olympics after this,” he told Golf Digest. “They vote next year. And if they vote to keep golf in, then that's great, but if not then we lose that momentum with growing the game.”

Before the vote to reinstate golf — 72 holes of stroke play for 60 men and 60 women — superstar Michelle Wie and champion Padraig Harrington urged their sport’s inclusion before the International Olympic Committee. But the vote covered only 2016 and 2020; another vote will be held next year to decide if it will be back in 2024.

Michael Phelps will swim for the USA for the last time

In his final Games, Phelps will become the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics. The most decorated Olympic competitor ever, he has won 18 gold medals, plus two silver and two bronze.

His return follows his second drunk driving arrest two years ago and a stint in rehab. He was suspended for six months from USA Swimming but returned to the pool last spring.

Jillian Macdonald and Nick Zaccardi contributed information to this article.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Steve Kerr Wins 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:29:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/steve-kerr.jpg

Programming note: Watch Steve Kerr's Coach of the Year press conference today at 1:30pm on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Steve Kerr was named the 2015-16 NBA Coach of the Year on Tuesday, the NBA announced.

Under Kerr's guidance, the Warriors broke the single-season record for wins and earned the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs for a second straight season.

He received 64 first-place votes and 381 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Portland's Terry Stotts finished second with 37 first-place votes and 335 total points.

Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs was third with 10 first-place votes and 166 total points. Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Kerr, in his second season with the franchise, becomes the third Warriors coach to win the award and the first since Don Nelson in 1991-92.

The award comes after the defending champions posted a 73-9 record, supplanting the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the best mark in NBA history.

Kerr, however, did not coach the first 43 games, as he took a leave of absence on the third day of training camp and did not return until Jan. 22. Though sometimes involved in game preparation, Kerr was away from the bench for nearly four months, during which time the Warriors went 39-4 under interim coach Luke Walton.

Kerr decided to temporarily step away due to complications and residual pain after he underwent two back surgeries over the summer. The Warriors upon his return went 34-5.

The Warriors are 140-24 in two seasons under Kerr, who last season finished second in the voting.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Could be Involved in Draft-Day Quarterback Swap Meet]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:52:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/niners5.jpg

The 49ers go into Thursday night’s Round 1 of the NFL draft with several giant question marks hanging over their heads.

One, of course, is what general manager Trent Baalke will do with the No. 7 overall pick. Will he trade down to get more picks? Will he stand pat and take the best player available? And, if he does, will he go for defense (the most popular scenario among NFL analysts) or offense?

The other question is, will Baalke take part in what may turn out to be a draft-day game of NFL musical chairs?

Though Colin Kaepernick remains on San Francisco’s roster, it’s been reported that the Denver Broncos still have interest in him, for the right price. Baalke has 12 selections in this draft, but could pick up more if he can deal Kaepernick to the Broncos.

The other scenario has Baalke perhaps sending some of those picks to Philadelphia for current Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.

Bradford, who was Chip Kelly’s quarterback in 2015, signed a two-year deal with Philadelphia this offseason, but now wants out because the Eagles have traded with Cleveland to get the No. 2 overall pick Thursday night. All indications are the Eagles would then take one of the two top quarterbacks available, Jared Goff of Cal or Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.

“Sam’s a competitor and he wants to go someplace and know he’s the man,” Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, told the media. “He just doesn’t want to be there holding the place card and then wondering where he’s going at the end of the year.”

Eliot Shorr-Parks, who covers the Eagles for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, wrote this week that the most likely landing spots for Bradford – if the Eagles decide to deal him – would be the 49ers, Broncos or Jets. The Niners make sense, he believes, because he already knows Kelly’s spread offense and Kelly specifically traded for him before. Shorr-Parks does note, however, that it is Baalke who has control over trades and personnel decisions in San Francisco, not Kelly.

If the 49ers decide to deal Kaepernick, they could bring in Bradford and have him compete with Blaine Gabbert for the starter’s job in 2016 – yet still go after a quarterback in the second or third round to develop for the future.

John Breitenbach of the NFL analytics website Pro Football Focus believes Bradford – though not an elite quarterback and often injured – is likely an upgrade from Gabbert. “Ultimately, a reunion with Chip Kelly seems most likely if Bradford were to be traded by Philadelphia,” writes Breitenbach.

The prospect of Bradford quarterbacking the 49ers doesn’t exactly thrill many 49ers fans, however.

Wrote one on Twitter Tuesday: “I’m so scared the #49ers are dumb enough to trade for Sam Bradford. Please, for the love of God do not let that happen.” Tweeted another: “Please stop writing about Sam Bradford to the Niners. Please.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Back Bumgarner, Beat Padres]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 23:19:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-524300056_594_screen.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy has said in recent days that the “pitcher hitting eighth” experiment will be altered, with certain pitchers going back to their usual ninth spot. Bochy does like Angel Pagan hitting ninth when it makes sense, though, and with Madison Bumgarner on the mound it certainly makes sense.

The slugging pitcher had a rare night at the plate, striking out three times. But he also struck out nine Padres and Pagan stayed hot in his new spot, notching three hits, as the Giants held on for a tight 5-4 win at AT&T Park. Bumgarner allowed just two runs, picking up his second win of the year, and Bruce Bochy worked around land mines by using five relievers to get the final seven outs. Santiago Casilla got four of them.

Bumgarner has a streak of four consecutive starts against the Padres with at least nine strikeouts. He didn’t get any in the first, but struck out two in the second as he settled in. A bad break cost Bumgarner a run in the third, when Jemile Weeks reached on a pop-up to right that Hunter Pence lost in the lights; he scored two batters later on Jon Jay’s single.

The Giants led 1-0 at that point thanks to Pagan’s RBI single, and Pence gave Bumgarner a lead with a lined shot over the left field fence in the fourth. Pagan had an RBI double later in the inning and Pence made it 4-1 with a sac fly in the fifth.

Bumgarner gave up a second run in the sixth but got the Giants through 6 2/3 with the lead. That was padded by Buster Posey’s solo shot, but the Padres kept clawing back. The Giants sent four pitchers to the mound in a 29-minute top of the eighth, giving two runs back before Casilla entered and got an inning-ending strikeout. He cruised through the ninth, earning his 100th career save.

Starting pitching report: Bumgarner finished the night with 38 strikeouts in five starts, putting him in a tie for second in the majors. Chris Archer has 39 and Noah Syndergaard has 38 (he has only made four starts).

Bullpen report: Bochy used three young pitchers and Casilla to get through the top of the eighth. Hunter Strickland was charged with multiple runs for the second time in his last five appearances.

At the plate: Bumgarner hasn’t seen many fastballs since taking Clayton Kershaw deep for a second time. Drew Pomeranz opened up with five straight curveballs in the second inning before finally going to his fastball a couple times for a strikeout. In their second matchup, Bumgarner saw a first-pitch fastball before getting four straight curveballs and striking out. Luis Perdomo did throw Bumgarner mostly fastballs, but he has a 94 mph sinker, so it’s a little easier to avoid trouble.

In the field: Denard Span is starting to look very comfortable out in center field here at AT&T Park. Span went to the wall in the third and made a leaping grab to rob Matt Kemp of at least an RBI double.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,266 human beings and announced their 420th consecutive sellout.

Up next: Two former Royals take the mound in Game 2 of this series. It’s Johnny Cueto (3-1, 3.49) vs. James Shields (0-3, 4.15).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Team Wants Supreme Court to Take Trademark Case]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 01:42:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-453831984.jpg

The Washington Redskins want the Supreme Court to take up their trademark battle with the government over whether their name is offensive, which could jeopardize whether the team can make money from the name.

The case, in which the U.S. Patent Office found the name was derogatory to Native Americans, is supposed to be heard by a Richmond appeals court. But according to court documents reviewed by NBC News, lawyers for the team want the Supreme Court to intervene.

Attorneys said the high court may take up a similar case from a rock band fighting a battle over their name, The Slants, which the founder says reclaims a slur against Asians; the attorneys want the two cases heard together, since they may hinge on the same 1946 law.

The Redskins' legal battle started last year when the U.S. Patent and Trademark office rejected the Redskins trademark, agreeing with five Native American people who said the name is offensive. 

The patent ruling, if upheld, would not mean the team must change its name, only that it could not protect its trademark from others using it.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Cabrera, Tigers Maul Graveman, Hand A's Third Straight Loss]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:05:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/190*120/GettyImages-524237184_594_screen.jpg

Don't poke the sleeping Tigers.

That was Kendall Graveman's job Monday night, and he failed to accomplish the task.

Led by Miguel Cabrera's two home runs, the Tigers pounded Graveman for 10 hits and six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings in Detroit's 7-3 win at Comerica Park.

The loss is the A's third in a row and drops their record to 10-10.

Entering the game hitting .206 with one home run and six RBI, Cabrera went 4-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI Monday night, raising his average to .254. Designated hitter Victor Martinez also connected for a solo home run off Graveman.

The win snaps the Tigers' four-game losing streak and moves them to 9-9.

The A's offense pounded out nine hits, including two apiece from Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie. Yonder Alonso drove in a run with his second double of the season, while Billy Burns and Mark Canha each drove in a run.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Feats of Architecture: 11 Summer Olympic Stadiums]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 11:49:39 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508730980-nrazil.jpg Cities that host the Olympics spend millions or billions of dollars building stadiums. The Bird's Nest in Beijing is among the most unique, but all of them are impressive. Take a look at venues from the most recent Summer Olympic Games as we gear up for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Decades After Chernobyl, Another Chance for Paralympian ]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 07:32:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_16113695576026-oksana.jpg

There was no stuffed animal to hug. Constant hunger pains. Hope that a mom would show up and rescue her.

Those were some of the memories that flooded back when Paralympian Oksana Masters recently returned to Ukraine, where she spent her first seven and a half years shuttled among three orphanages. Masters visited with orphaned children that stared at her with an "Are you here to adopt me?" gaze.

Two decades ago, that face was hers.

She was adopted by an American woman who took in a malnourished Masters with birth defects believed to be from the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. On the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl this week, Masters is now in a much different place.

She's become a three-time Paralympic medalist in rowing and cross-country skiing, with her sights now set on making the cycling squad for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games later this summer. She's appeared in ESPN The Magazine Body Issue.

Above all else: She has a mother.

"My mom literally saved my life," the 26-year-old Masters said recently before a training session at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "I wasn't supposed to make it out of the orphanage."

Her journey began because of a black-and-white photo that Gay Masters saw through a Ukrainian adoption notebook. That picture of Oksana — circa age 5 — captured the heart of a speech pathologist who was teaching in Buffalo, New York, at the time. Oksana was born with webbed fingers, no thumbs, six toes on each foot, deformed legs, one kidney and only parts of her stomach.

She was perfect. The match was perfect.

Adopting her, though, was quite a saga. With the Ukrainian government placing a moratorium on foreign adoptions, Gay Masters had to wait 2½ years to bring her home. She sent care packages all the time, stuffed with teddy bears and other treats.

The little girl never got them.

She simply thought she was on her own again. That is, until one night at 11:30 p.m., with all the paperwork finally approved, Gay arrived to take her new daughter home.

"The adoption agency kept saying, 'You can go to Russia and get a baby now,'" Gay said in a phone interview from her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where they moved when Oksana was a teenager. 

"But that was my daughter. I couldn't abandon her."

At the time, the child weighed about 35 pounds — healthy for a 3-year-old, not so much for someone who was nearly 8.

"I know friends who didn't make it out and died," she said. "I watched that."

The new mom and daughter didn't speak the same language but found a way to communicate through gestures and by pointing at phrases in a book. It didn't take long for them to get on the same page and settle into their new life.

It was around that time when a dentist discovered the root cause of Oksana's birth defects. She was missing the enamel from her teeth due to radiation. Being from the region near Chernobyl, it wasn't hard to make the connection with the world's worst nuclear accident, which occurred on April 26, 1986. They believe her birth mom either lived in an area that was contaminated or ingested produce that was riddled with radiation, leading to in utero radiation poisoning.

"As a child, I didn't think about (Chernobyl) because I didn't know what it was. Being older and educated more what it was, knowing now how it is still affecting that whole area, it's just jaw dropping," said Oksana, who's from Khmelnytskiy in western Ukraine.

She was born with tibial hemimelia, which resulted in different leg lengths. She got by as a child by fusing her ankles so she walked on tippy toes, but her body could no longer support her weight. She had her left leg amputated near the knee at 9 and the right one at the same spot five years later.

About that time, she discovered rowing. The pull of the oars and the push against the water became a release, a "healing from my past," she said. Oksana became good in no time.

Before the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Gay gave her a replica Olympic medal that once belonged to Gay's parents. She taped it inside the boat for good luck during races. Oksana and her rowing partner, Rob Jones, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan while in the U.S. Marine Corps, wound up with bronze.

"I kept saying: 'Is it really true? Is it really true?'" Gay recalled. "It's just indescribable, how amazing it was."

Two years later in Sochi at the Paralympic Winter Games, Oksana captured silver and bronze in cross-country skiing.

And now onto a new challenge. She's a strong candidate to make the Paralympic cycling squad, with a final opportunity to qualify for the U.S. team in Charlotte, North Carolina, in July.

"I do think about Rio," she said. "I want to be there. But I don't want to get my hopes up."

A coping mechanism from her days in the orphanage: whenever a visitor arrived, they would put her in a dress and place a bow on her head.

"Every child looked at the next person that comes in as, 'Are you going to be my new mom?'" she said. "Every kid wants that."

Going back last October was overwhelming — and therapeutic. She talked with wounded soldiers from the conflict in eastern Ukraine and spent time with children in an orphanage.

"I often look back and just think, 'I can't believe this is my life right now,'" Oksana said.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Lakers Split With Byron Scott]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 04:05:18 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Lakers-fire-coach-Byron-Scott.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers had fired head coach Byron Scott after his two seasons in charge of the team led to the two worst seasons in the history of the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was first to report on Sunday. 

Later in the evening, the team confirmed that it had opted not to pick up the option of Scott's contract, effectively vacating to position.

In his first season in charge, Scott led Los Angeles to the franchise's first 60-loss season: 21-61. In his second season in charge of the purple and gold, the 55-year-old finished worse: 17-65. Scott will not get a third season in charge.

The Inglewood native and former player with the Lakers earned a great deal of criticism in his tough approach with rookie guard D'Angelo Russell and second year forward Julius Randle. Though both players improved over the course of the season, Scott's decision to remove both players from the starting lineup early in the season did not appear to sit well with a loud segment of fans and national basketball writers.

In truth, the poor display of basketball over two seasons had a segment of fans marveling at how Scott retained his position for two full seasons. Scott’s 38-126 (.227) record over two seasons was largely overshadowed by Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Scott's relationship with Bryant likely helped the coach keep his job in the face of the worst season in franchise history and a consistently horrific product on the court.

After the season, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stated that Lakers executive vice-president of basketball operations Jim Buss would join him and take time to meet with Scott over the coming weeks. Just shy of 10 days after Kupchak commented on the season review process, the Lakers made the change.

Over those 10 days, however, the Lakers' front office drew a great deal of criticism for not announcing the separation sooner. Two prominent coaches linked with the Lakers, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, accepted positions in Minnesota and Washington, respectively. With Scott's departure, however, LA should be linked with nearly every top assistant and out of work coach, including Jeff Van Gundy and Ettore Messina, the latter of whom is currently an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Yahoo! Sports first reported Scott's firing on Sunday night. Shortly thereafter, the team confirmed the report by stating that the "Lakers have decided not to pick up the option for the 2016-17 season on the contract of Head Coach Byron Scott."

Kupchak said in a statement, "We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time."

Though technically not "fired," Scott had previously shared his desire to return to coach the team for a third season. The decision not to retain his services is effectively the equivalent of firing the coach.

Also in their statement, the Lakers stated that the search for a new coach would begin "immediately."



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Warriors Grab Big Win Against Rockets in Game 4 of NBA Playoffs]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 17:16:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-521591762.jpg

The Warriors came back from losing game three in the NBA playoffs to scoring a huge 121-94 win over the Rockets in game four. 

A 41-20 blitz in the third quarter powered the Warriors to a 3-1 lead over Houston. But they lost Steph Curry to a knee injury along the way. 

Curry slipped on a wet spot on the Toyota Center floor Sunday late in the first half of Game 4 of the Warriors-Rockets playoff series and did not return for the second half. 

He sustained a sprained right knee, according to the Warriors.

Curry was defending Trevor Ariza in the final seconds of the half when he slipped. He clutched his right knee, which had given way, after he went to the floor and limped off as the Warriors went into the locker room at halftime.

Curry came out of the locker room wearing brace on his right knee but went back inside after aborting an attempt to warm up for the second half.

He played 19 minutes in the first half, scoring 6 points on 2-of-9 shooting, including 1-of-7 from 3-point distance. 

Without Curry, the Warriors came out red-hot in the third quarter. They set a franchise playoff record eight 3-pointers in the quarter.

Klay Thompson finished with a game-high 23 points, while Andre Iguodala poured in 22 points off the bench. Draymond Green scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists.

 

 

 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stephen Curry Sprains Knee in NBA Playoffs]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 18:56:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-521591762.jpg

As the first half ended Sunday, Stephen Curry slipped and appeared to injure his right leg.

Curry grabbed for the area around his knee and hobbled to the locker room.

During the halftime break, the Warriors announced that Curry injured his right knee and was available to return. Prior to the start of the second half, Curry came out with the team and tried to warm up. After doing several drills, he met with the Warriors' training staff and walked back to the locker room. Shaun Livingston started the second half. 

Five minutes into the second half, the Warriors announced Curry sprained his right knee and would not return to the game.

The reigning MVP had missed Games 2 and 3 with a right ankle injury. 

In his first action since Saturday, April 16, Curry scored six points in the first half on 2-of-9 shooting from the field and 1-of-7 shooting from 3-point distance.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Samardzija Leads Giants to Win]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 22:47:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523332376_594_screen.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO — Jeff Samardzija had to get through starts at Miller Park and Coors Field, and a Sunday night game against the Dodgers, before making his home debut. The wait was worth it.

Samardzija gave up one run in 7 2/3 innings and knocked in a career-high three runs, driving the Giants to an easy 8-1 win over the Miami Marlins. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak.

Coming off a sweep by the Diamondbacks, the Giants got off to a quick start. They sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring three runs on RBIs by Matt Duffy, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford.

The lineup put up another three-spot in the fifth, batting around this time. Buster Posey kicked things off with his second single, which was followed by a Belt single and an intentional walk of Crawford that loaded the bases. Samardzija lined an RBI single to right and Angel Pagan and Denard Span drove in runs with singles, giving the Giants a 6-1 lead. Samardzija came up with two more on in the sixth and smoked a double.

Samardzija was even better on the mound, cruising deep into the eighth. He ran into trouble just once, giving up a run in the fourth on three hits. But he got out of that jam with a strikeout and liner to first and then retired 11 of the next 12.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was brought here in part to eat innings, and he certainly has lived up to his reputation. He’s pitched 27 innings through four starts, posting a 3.00 ERA. He threw 117 pitches Friday, 82 of which were strikes.

Bullpen report: Javier Lopez got to face Giancarlo Stanton. He struck him out.

At the plate: It was an odd night for the “pitcher hitting eighth” experiment. Samardzija stranded five runners in his first two at-bats and then drove in runs in his next two at-bats. He has come up with 13 runners on base in his last two starts, a life most hitters dream of. The three RBI tied his career-high for a season.

In the field: Samardzija got 11 outs on the ground, including all three in the seventh inning. That's generally a good plan when those four guys are playing behind you.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,759 human beings who wore terrible hats, plus one person dressed as an Oompa Loompa.

Up next: Jose Fernandez makes his AT&T Park debut. He's worth the price of admission.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sharks Knock Out Kings, Advance to Round 2]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 23:32:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*121/GettyImages-523339708_594_screen.jpg

SAN JOSE -– Despite conceding a three-goal lead, the Sharks regrouped and downed the Kings at Staples Center on Friday night, 6-3, winning their first round playoff series over their biggest rival in five games.

Joonas Donskoi had a pair of scores, including the game-winner at 3:58 of the third period. The rookie forward held off Drew Doughty while storming up the wall, and eventually got in front of the net to deposit a loose puck off of Brent Burns’ stick to break a 3-3 tie.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks an insurance marker at 12:24, when his shot from the circle got through Jonathan Quick on a rare bad goal allowed by the Los Angeles netminder. He led all players in the series with five goals.

Melker Karlsson’s empty-net goal with 22 seconds to go capped the scoring.

The Sharks will face the winner of the Ducks-Predators first-round series that is currently tied at two games apiece. They would have home ice against Nashville, but would start on the road if it’s Anaheim.

It’s the first time since 2013 that San Jose, which missed the postseason in 2014-15, has advanced to the second round.

The Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period, courtesy of three players that had yet to score in the series.

The first two came in the opening frame. Donskoi dragged the puck around Jake Muzzin before finding the top shelf over Quick’s shoulder just 1:08 into the game.

Chris Tierney’s first goal since Feb. 13 made it 2-0, when he cut to the slot and took advantage of a Tommy Wingels screen at 11:21.

Matt Nieto increased the lead to 3-0 when Logan Couture found Joel Ward just outside the crease, and Ward pushed it across where Nieto easily slammed it home at 4:05.

The Kings, though, did not go away, and after Patrick Marleau’s weak attempt on a penalty shot at 5:31 of the second was easily denied by Quick, came storming back.

First, a point shot by Doughty deflected a couple times and ricocheted in off of Anze Kopitar’s shin at 7:44. It was Doughty’s first point in the series.

Some poor defensive zone coverage led to Jeff Carter cutting it to 3-2, when he Kings’ center was left all alone in front of the net and had time to roof it over Martin Jones at 11:26.

Los Angeles kept up the pressure and got the equalizer from Kris Versteeg, who deposited a loose puck off of the stick of Kyle Clifford, who hit the post with his blast from high in the zone, knotting the score for the second intermission.

Couture and Burns each had three assists.

The Sharks won all five of their games at Staples Center this season, including two in the regular season.

Special teams

One game after striking for three power play goals, the Sharks finished 0-for-3 in Game 5. They squandered a five-on-three for 1:45 in the first period while holding a 1-0 lead.

The Kings had just one power play late in the first period, and did not cash in.

San Jose finished 5-for-21 on the power play in the series, while Los Angeles was 3-for-14.

In goal

Jones finished with 19 saves. The former Kings backup was in goal for all five Sharks wins at Staples Center, and is now 4-1 in his career in the postseason.

Quick allowed five goals on 27 shots and fell to 46-35 in his career in the playoffs.

Lineup

Both lineups were unchanged from Game 4.

Kings forward Vincent Lecavalier played his final game in the NHL, as he’s expected to retire after a 17-year NHL career.

Up next

The schedule for the second round will be announced at a later date.

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<![CDATA[A's Bats Swing Away, Escape Blue Jays in Win]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 19:59:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523309404_594_screen.jpg

TORONTO – Chris Coghlan normally hops all over the diamond for the A’s, but he’s likely to drop anchor at third base for as long as Danny Valencia is on the disabled list.

So far he’s impressing in his temporary role. Coghlan got the A’s offensive train rolling in Friday’s 8-5 victory over the Blue Jays, which got a little too close for comfort before Oakland pocketed its sixth victory in a row.

Coghlan drilled an opposite-field three-run homer off Aaron Sanchez (1-1) in the second inning, his second time he’s gone deep in as many days. The A’s are now 7-0 on the road, the only remaining unbeaten road team in the majors, and Coghlan seems to be proving his value on a daily basis. He’s also turned in some nifty plays at the hot corner.

Crazy thing is, Coghlan’s night got off to a painful start. Sanchez nailed him in the right foot with a breaking ball in the first, and Coghlan hobbled around in obvious pain for several minutes before remaining in the game. That foot seemed just fine as he made the slow trot around the bases in the second, following his third homer of the season.

The A’s continued swinging the bats from there, and built a 6-1 lead before the Blue Jays fought their way back. They pulled within a run on Kevin Pillar’s two-run single in the eighth, but Ryan Madson took care of business in the ninth to register his seventh save, tops in the American League.

At 10-7, Oakland has already eclipsed its April win total from last season.

Starting pitching report

Sonny Gray (3-1) went seven innings and gave up three runs to get the win, though he seemed destined for a much more dominant outing. He coasted through the first five innings, striking out seven and keeping his pitch count low. He ran into some difficulty during the sixth, when he walked three in a 27-pitch frame. But importantly, he held Toronto to just one run despite loading the bases with no outs, and the A’s took a 6-2 lead out of that inning.

Bullpen report

The A’s feel pretty good handing a lead to Ryan Dull. But after getting two outs in the eighth, he walked a batter and gave up a single. Then Sean Doolittle entered and issued another walk before giving up Pillar’s two-run single to make it a 6-5 game. Madson restored order in the ninth, as is becoming the norm.

At the plate

Every member of the A’s lineup had at least one hit or scored at least one run. It was just one week ago that this team was lamenting the inability to get a clutch hit. Now guys can’t grab a bat and get to home plate fast enough. The A’s are averaging 5.2 runs over their six-game win streak, compared to 2.6 over their first 11 games. They knocked out 14 hits total, and though Coghlan provided the big blast, Stephen Vogt was 3-for-5 with an RBI double and Coco Crisp had two hits, including an RBI double.

Toronto’s rotation has been a relative bright spot compared to the question marks surrounding it leading into the season. But Friday was not Aaron Sanchez’s night, as the right-hander was tagged for six runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

In the field

The A’s played an errorless game.

Attendance

A crowd of 34,251 was treated to more of Prince’s greatest hits over the PA system between innings, in honor of the music legend who died Thursday.

Up next

Saturday morning baseball’s on tap, with Chris Bassitt (0-0, 2.79) matching up against lefty J.A. Happ (2-0, 1.89). First pitch is at 10:07 a.m. A noteworthy change for Sunday: The Jays will call up right-hander Drew Hutchison from Triple-A to make a spot start in place of Marcus Stroman, who will get an extra day’s rest.

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<![CDATA[Warriors Fumble Comeback, Rockets Take Game 3]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 21:45:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WARRIORS_ROCKETS_AP_347346442416.jpg

HOUSTON –- The Warriors will not be sweeping the Houston Rockets.

With Steph Curry unavailable for the second consecutive game, the Warriors spent most of the evening chasing the Rockets and briefly caught up before taking a 97-96 loss Thursday night at Toyota Center.

The Warriors now have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.

After James Harden drained a jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining, the Warriors called timeout to set up a play, which was wrecked when Draymond Green dribbled the ball of his foot and out of bounds, his seventh turnover.

The Warriors committed 14 turnovers, leading to 20 Houston points, allowing the Rockets to avoid the possibility of a sweep.

Marreese Speights totaled a team-high 22 points, while Klay Thompson finished with 17, Shaun Livingston with 16 and Ian Clark added 11.

The Warriors were outrebounded 52-43 and missed 19 of 25 shots from 3-point distance, with Thompson missing all seven of his attempts from deep.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

The Warriors would have been nowhere near the Rockets without Speights and Livingston.

Speights’ line: 22 points (7-of-11 from the field, 3-6 from beyond the arc), four rebounds and a blocked shot. He played 18 minutes and was plus-17 for the game.

Livingston’s line: 16 points (6-of-13 from the field, 4-of-4 from the line), five rebounds, three assists and three steals. He played 30 minutes and was plus-5.

TURNING POINT

This was in doubt until the final seconds.

After an Ian Clark layup -– off a Livingston steal –- gave the Warriors a 96-95 lead with 10.6 seconds remaining, Harden dribbled up the court, created some space from defender Andre Iguodala and swished a step-back jumper for the winning bucket.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak) was listed as questionable and declared out 90 minutes before tipoff. F Kevon Looney (R hip soreness) was listed as out. Both were placed on the single-game inactive list.

Rockets: F Sam Dekker (back tightness) was listed as out. He and G Andrew Goudelock (healthy) were placed on the single-game inactive list.

WHAT’S NEXT

Game 4 is set for Sunday at Toyota Center, tipoff at 12:40 p.m. (PDT).



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2016 Rio Olympic Games]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 08:04:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP_16117516881811-rio-olympic-park.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[A's Finish Road Sweep Over Yankees]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 20:14:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523083000_594_screen.jpg

NEW YORK -– The A’s find themselves on a nice little roll, and they’re even getting creative with their route to victory.

They bombarded the Yankees with four homers in Thursday’s 7-3 victory, completing a three-game sweep in the Bronx to stay undefeated on the road and extend their winning streak to five games.

Through the first 15 games, the A’s hardly were a team taking aim for the fences. They entered Thursday tied for the third-fewest homers in the American League with 12.

But they broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh when Khris Davis and Coco Crisp went deep on back-to-back pitches from lefty reliever Chasen Shreve.

Mark Canha, drawing a rare start at first base, lined an opposite field shot to right-center to knot the score 2-2 in the fifth. Chris Coghlan capped the power surge with a towering two-run blast to right in the eighth that made it 6-3.

That made a winner of Rich Hill, who struck out 10 and held the Yankees to three hits over six innings. The A’s have now have their longest winning streak since they took five in a row from June 20-25 of last season.

And though it’s early, this helps put their 9-7 start into perspective: It’s the first time Oakland is two games above .500 since ending the 2014 regular season 88-74.

Starting pitching report

Hill notched 10 strikeouts for the second time in his past three starts, giving him 29 in 19 innings pitched on the season. He made it through six innings, important considering the lanky left-hander failed to complete five in two of his first three outings. The Yankees got little in the way of hard contact against Hill (2-2). He issued two walks in the second, when Aaron Hicks blooped a ball to center that scored Mark Teixeira. In the fourth, Hill hurt himself with an errant pickoff throw that sent Alex Rodriguez from first to third. He came home on Austin Romine’s dribbler to the left side of the mound to give the Yankees a short-lived 2-1 lead.

Hill, who made 14 relief appearances for the Yankees in 2014, came in 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in 10 career appearances (two starts) against them.

Bullpen report

Leading 7-3 in the ninth, A’s manager Bob Melvin was taking no chances in the ninth. After back to back one-out singles off Liam Hendriks, he called on Ryan Madson to close it out for his sixth save in six chances.

At the plate

After notching two singles Wednesday night, Davis took another step toward flushing his bad mojo with his first homer in an A’s uniform. He jumped on Shreve’s first pitch upon entering the game, drilling a solo shot to center to put the A’s ahead for good 3-2 in the seventh. Then the switch-hititng Crisp, who came in just 1-for-7 from the right side this season, turned on the first offering from Shreve (1-1) and cleared the left field wall as boos rained down from the Yankee Stadium crowd.

Davis was in a 2-for-22 rut before his two-hit game Wednesday and he entered Thursday with 20 strikeouts in 13 games overall.

In the field

Yankees left fielder Aaron Hicks, after his much talked-about throw to nail Danny Valencia at home on Wednesday, came up big defensively again, throwing out Jed Lowrie trying to stretch a single into a double and making a spectacular leaping catch of Coghlan’s foul fly along the wall.

Attendance

The announced crowd was 33,818.

Up next

The A’s head north of the border for three games against the Toronto Blue Jays. They’ll send ace Sonny Gray (2-1, 2.33) to the mound for Friday’s opener against Aaron Sanchez (1-0, 1.35). First pitch is 4:07 p.m. On Saturday, the A’s face lefty J.A. Happ (2-0, 1.89) after a string of seeing 12 right-handed starters in 13 games. Sunday’s series finale pits Eric Surkamp (0-1, 3.68) against Marcus Stroman (3-0, 4.13). The final two games start at 10:07 a.m. CSN California will carry the entire series.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Missing Timely Hits During Offensive Slump]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 19:58:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-522976008_594_screen.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have lost eight of nine, and they’ve done so for a number of different reasons. If you want to sum this skid up, though, look no further than Thursday’s fourth inning.

Shelby Miller, his hand apparently aching, started his third frame by walking Johnny Cueto, Denard Span and Joe Panik. He then walked Hunter Pence, scoring a run. Miller gave way to Tyler Wagner, who got a double play and a groundout to get out of the jam with the game tied. Bruce Bochy’s team wouldn’t score again, losing 6-2 in the final game of the second four-game sweep by a visitor to AT&T Park.

“They were trying to give us the game there,” Bochy said. “If it wasn’t for the walks, we probably get shut out.”

Bochy was visibly frustrated, and for good reason. His team entered three for the last 30 with runners in scoring position and immediately stranded leadoff hitter Denard Span, who drew a walk and then stole second. Miller was on a platter and the Giants couldn’t deliver a knockout blow at any point in those first three innings despite putting six of their first 12 hitters on.

“They killed us,” Bochy said of the failed rallies. “That’s what we’re missing — a timely hit. You always look lifeless when you don’t get those hits.”

This series was as lifeless as the Giants have looked in recent years. AT&T Park was about a third full by the time the Diamondbacks finished a three-run top of the ninth that put the game out of reach. The Giants, after such a hot start, have dropped to fourth in the National League West.

Bochy has resisted changes to the new-look lineup, but there’s one move he could make that wouldn’t shake things up too much and might bring a spark. Matt Duffy has three straight multi-hit games since getting a day to clear his head and his swing, and he gave this team a jolt when moved to the No. 3 spot last summer.

“I could do a lot of things,” Bochy said when asked about Duffy. “I can move the order around. I’ll think on this.”

Bochy said his first order of business after his press conference would be to go back to his office and do just that. Patience is running out, but in the clubhouse it’s still there, and Duffy is a reminder that a slump can be broken in a day or two. Asked about the slumping lineup, he smiled and reminded a reporter, “You saw how bad I was.”

“Baseball has a way of humbling you,” Duffy said. “The second you have it figured out, it’ll let you know that you don’t.”

Bochy found a silver lining, as he tends to, pointing out that the numbers on the scoreboard are all far below what the Giants expect. It can only get better, he said. Still, even a slumping team should have won this one.

Miller walked nearly as many (five) as he retired (six) and Johnny Cueto was game, giving up just three runs in seven quick innings.

“Today is one we let get away,” Bochy said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs' Arrieta Throws No-Hitter]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 05:52:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523069578+%281%29.jpg

For the second time in less than a year, Chicago Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta has thrown a no-hitter as he blanked the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Arrieta, who no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015, walked four batters in the game, but he struck out six batters in his second career no-no.

The no-hitter breaks the Reds' remarkable streak of 7,110 games without being held without a hit. 

As for the Cubs’ batters, they were in fine form on Thursday as they beat the Reds 16-0. Kris Bryant cracked two home runs, including a grand slam, and Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and David Ross all went deep to support Arrieta in the contest. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kerr 'Didn't Feel Comfortable' Playing Curry in Game 3]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 17:35:48 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Stephen-Curry1.jpg

HOUSTON -– Stephen Curry’s tender right ankle will force him to miss his second consecutive playoff game, as the Warriors point guard was declared out of Game 3 against the Rockets on Thursday.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr made the official announcement during his pregame news conference Thursday evening at Toyota Center.

“Steph will not play tonight,” Kerr said.

“We talked to him after shootaround today,” Kerr added. “He felt pretty good. He moved well. He wanted to play. But, ultimately, we didn’t feel comfortable, after four straight days of inactivity, throwing him into the middle of a playoff game not knowing how the ankle would respond.”

Though Curry by all accounts continues to progress after turning his right ankle in Game 1 last Saturday, he has not reached a point where he could satisfactorily complete moves typically used over the course of a game.

Curry participated in the team’s shootaround Thursday morning but did not address reporters afterward. Kerr at that time said a decision was forthcoming before tipoff at 6:30 p.m. (PDT).

The decision was reached after an afternoon meeting among general manager Bob Myers, Kerr, Curry, the medical staff, performance staff and trainer.

“We kind of teamed up on him,” Kerr said. “He wanted to play.”

Kerr injured his ankle on a non-contact sequence in the second quarter of Game 1 and left shortly thereafter. He attempted to return after halftime, but played only three minutes before Kerr subbed him for good. He scored 24 points in 20 minutes.

Shaun Livingston, who started Game 2, will make his second consecutive start in place of Curry.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Prince Performed in Oakland Shortly Before Death]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 18:57:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/AP_1603040454567199-prince.jpg

The artist known as Prince, reported dead Thursday at the age of 57, had recently wowed crowds in San Francisco and Oakland, giving a surprise concert at the Paramount Theater and getting a standing ovation at the Oracle Arena when the artist showed up at a Warriors game.

The musician best known for his hit song, “Purple Rain,” had been fighting the flu for several weeks, the singer's rep told the Associated Press. His death shocked the country. The news was so devastating to some, that they couldn't speak, and even had to turn off the radio, which played a continual stream of Prince hits, from "When Doves Cry" to "1999."

"I was at work when my parents texted me and were like, 'Yo, did you know Prince died?' " Jared Boone, 22, of Berkeley said Thursday after hearing the news broken to him at his job at Oracle in Redwood City. "I started thinking about Michael Jackson and how abruptly he died in his 50s. I had a flashback of that."

Some thought the Great Purple looked a bit frail when he was seen sitting courtside March 3 at the Oracle Arena, while watching the Golden State Warriors tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those in attendance cheered and stood as the singer, clad in dark sunglasses and big Afro, passed by.

"That night was a real honor for me and, looking back, he appeared to be doing well and was in great spirits," Warriors owner Joe Lacob said in a statement. The two sat next to each other during the game.  "From everyone in the Warriors’ organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and millions of fans during this difficult time. We lost a true icon in the entertainment business.”

The following night Prince gave a performance at the same arena, during his “Piano and Microphone” tour, which kicked off in February. Right after that March 4 show, Prince sent out a surprise announcement, saying he'd play at an afterparty in San Francisco at the Great American Musical Hall from 12:30 a.m. all the way to just about sunrise. That was his last show in the Bay Area.

Boone, whose parents taught him to love the mysterious and enigmatic Prince, had seen the singer that night in Oakland. He too, thought Prince looked thin, but said he gave an energetic concert, singing and then hopping on a bicycle in between songs to head offstage. "It was great," Boone said. "There was no band, just him on the piano."

Prince also played the piano on Feb. 28, when he gave two more intimate, and quickly announced, concerts at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, where adoring fans plunked down $300 a ticket. Then, after a marathon night of music, Prince showed up without much notice in San Francisco at the 1015 Folsom nightclub.

Photos of the musician performing at those concerts are scarce. Prince didn’t allow photos or video to be taken at his performances; his guards were told to confiscate anyone documenting his acts. He told his audiences he wanted them to be present for his pieces. Still, Boone said he had snuck some Snapchat video of the artist onto his phone, and felt lucky he had taken those visuals.

Prince had first come to the Bay Area in mid-February to attend the funeral in Union City of his longtime friend and mentor, Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity. She and Prince had been lovers for a few years in the 1980s.

 



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Greinke Beats Bumgarner, Giants' Skid Hits Four]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 00:02:41 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-522722098_594_screen.jpg

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a bizarro world where Zack Greinke will start for the Giants tomorrow, making the fourth start of a mammoth offseason deal. In this world, Greinke pitched for the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night, and pitched very well.

Greinke took a shutout into the seventh as the Giants had another hapless night against Diamondbacks pitching. They fell 2-1, with Madison Bumgarner taking a tough loss thanks to a two-run homer from Welington Castillo.

Bumgarner had no-hit stuff and command early and faced the minimum the first time through the order. Paul Goldschmidt had the first Diamondbacks hit, a clean single to left in the fourth on a cutter that was a good pitch, down and in.

The other Diamondbacks star showed his skill on the mound. Greinke put two on in the first but wiggled out of the jam with strikeouts of the Brandons. The Giants left a runner on in each of the next three innings, allowing Greinke to settle in. When he did, he retired nine straight in the middle innings.

Bumgarner kept it scoreless through six but gave up two runs right off the bat in the sixth. Yasmany Tomas led off with a single and Castillo mashed a two-strike fastball into the seats in left-center. The pitch, a fastball up and outside, wasn’t a bad one, but Castillo hit it 408 feet.

The Giants got a run back in the bottom of the inning and chased Greinke. Gregor Blanco smoked a one-out triple and — after Greinke got pinch-hitter Hunter Pence to pop up at the end of a good battle — Angel Pagan lined an RBI single to left.

Starting pitching report: Bumgarner pitched through seven for the first time in four starts, allowing two earned on five hits and a walk. He struck out eight, tying his season high.

Bullpen report: Derek Law’s velocity was down a tick and his breaking ball wasn’t quite as sharp, but he still put up a zero. Getting through the top of Arizona’s order without his A-game was maybe more impressive than the first two outings.

At the plate: It’s not often that Bumgarner loses the battle of good-hitting pitchers, but he did Wednesday. Greinke hit a single and is 3-for-7 this season. Bumgarner, who homered off Greinke two years ago, struck out twice.

In the field: Jean Segura tried to bunt Jake Lamb over to third in the eighth, but the ball dropped inches in front of the plate. Buster Posey picked it up and fired a strike to third for the out.

Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,497 human beings who in their previous visits did not buy enough crab sandwiches to up the offer for Greinke.

Up next: Johnny Cueto will try to become the first four-game winner in the National League. Shelby Miller (0-1, 8.53) will try to shake off his slow Diamondbacks start.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sharks Take 3-1 Series Lead on Kings]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 22:43:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/GettyImages-522758476_594_screen.jpg

SAN JOSE -– The Sharks struck for three power play goals and withstood a late push from Los Angeles in downing the Kings, 3-2, in Game 4 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night at SAP Center.

San Jose leads the best-of-seven series, three games to one, and can wrap it up in Game 5 on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau all tallied on the man advantage to stake San Jose a 3-0 lead early in the third period.

The first two came in the second period.

Jeff Carter’s roughing minor 30 seconds into the middle frame, when he took an extra jab to the head of Marc-Edouard Vlasic in scrum, was the first penalty of the night. Joel Ward managed to freeze Jonathan Quick for a split second before sliding a pass through the seam to Burns, who beat the Kings goalie inside the near post at 2:09.

The Sharks were forced to kill off of a pair of minors to Matt Nieto and Ward shortly after the goal, and went back to work on the power play when Tomas Hertl drew a trip on Rob Scuderi.

This time it was Pavelski converting, getting free between Carter and Drew Doughty in front of the net and slamming home a Joe Thornton pass from behind the net at 9:21. It was his fourth of the series.

Another bad penalty by the Kings, this one on Luke Schenn for roughing Thornton, gave the Sharks another advantage with 2:30 left in the second. Despite plenty of zone time again, the score remained 2-0 at the break.

The Sharks got their third power play goal of the night at 1:40 of the third, though. Just six seconds after Jamie McBain whacked Joonas Donskoi with a high stick, Marleau flicked in a loose puck with a backhand. The play began with a Logan Couture shot that was blocked by Jake Muzzin, but Marleau was able to settle it down with his skate before potting his first of the series.

Los Angeles kept pushing, though, and got back to within 3-2 on a pair of goals from a pair of unlikely sources.

Fourth liner Trevor Lewis put the Kings on the board, when Schenn’s point shot nicked Lewis’ skate and got past Martin Jones. Lewis came into contact with Jones, but the goal was allowed to stand after a coach’s challenge at 2:49 due to Burns forcing Lewis into the San Jose goalie.

Schenn scored the second himself at 6:44, when his shot deflected off of Roman Polak. About a minute earlier, Quick got just enough of a Couture wrist shot from the circle on a two-on-one.

The Sharks and Jones kept the Kings from getting the equalizer, though, as the Kings outshot San Jose 12-5 in the third period.

The pace was frantic in a scoreless first period, and the Sharks had the better of the scoring chances. Thornton’s look at an open net was blocked by Doughty midway through, and less than a minute later Jonathan shifted to his right to deny Marleau on a two-on-one rush after a pass from Nieto with 8:55 to go.

The Sharks improved to 17-15 all-time in Game 4’s. When winning three of the first four games of a playoff series they are 9-1 all-time, with the lone defeat coming to Los Angeles in 2014 when they dropped four straight.

Special teams

After taking an unsightly 0-for-5 in Game 3, the Sharks finished 3-for-4 on the power play. They are 5-for-18 for the series.

Los Angeles was 0-for-2, and is 3-for-13 through four games.

In goal

Jones stopped all 16 Kings shots he saw through two periods, and finished with 26 saves. He’s now won three of his first four career postseason starts.

Quick allowed three goals on 29 shots and fell to 46-34 in his playoff career.

Quick and Jones have played every minute of the series so far for their respective teams.

Lineup

Neither team made any lineup changes for Game 4. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (undisclosed) missed his third straight game.

Up next

The Sharks have won all four games they’ve played at Staples Center, including two in the regular season. They have a 12-16 record all-time in Game 5’s, including a 3-11 mark on the road.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Graveman K's Career-High, A's Win Fourth Straight]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:31:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-522715028.jpg

NEW YORK – Kendall Graveman had to assume his first start at Yankee Stadium would be memorable, but some events just can’t be predicted.

Who would have guessed that Danny Valencia’s hamstring injury would lead to Graveman grabbing a bat and helmet and becoming the first pitcher to ever step to the plate at the new Yankee Stadium?

That will be something to share with his grandchildren. More importantly in the present, Graveman gave the A’s a fantastic effort on the mound as Oakland beat the Yankees 5-2 for their fourth victory in a row.

The right-hander allowed just three hits over 6 1/3 innings, ringing up a career-high eight strikeouts and tying his career high with 111 pitches.

Not too shabby for a Big Apple debut. But the story early in the game was an unsual chain of events that began with Valencia leaving the game with a strained left hamstring in the fourth after he was thrown out at home plate. Because the A’s don’t have a pure backup middle infielder on their roster, designated hitter Jed Lowrie had to enter at second base when Chris Coghlan shifted from second to third to replace Valencia.

That meant the A’s lost their DH and – ta-dah!! – Graveman suddenly became the A’s cleanup hitter. Sure enough, he came up for his first professional plate appearance with two runners aboard and two outs in the fifth. He struck out on three pitches from Nathan Eovaldi (1-1), but he did at least foul off a pitch.

Graveman became the first pitcher to hit in a game at the new Yankee Stadium since the venue opened in 2009. He also became the first A’s starting pitcher to hit in an American League game since Ken Holtzman in 1975.

There was no immediate word on how much time Valencia might miss.

Starting pitching report:

Graveman (1-1) snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to last season. That was the longest losing streak by an A’s pitcher since Tyson Ross lost eight decisions in a row in 2012.

Bullpen report:

Ryan Dull gave up Carlos Beltran’s eighth-inning homer, his first allowed and it came in his eighth outing. He was the first A’s pitcher since at least 1913 to begin his season with seven consecutive hitless outings.

At the plate:

The A’s erased a 1-0 deficit in the fourth, an inning that included no shortage of nuttiness. Back-to-back doubles from Billy Burns and Chris Coghlan tied it 1-1. Then Josh Reddick dumped a run-scoring single into left field. Third base coach Ron Washington took a big gamble by waving Coghlan around third even though Aaron Hicks retrieved the ball in shallow left. His throw skipped to the plate, Brian McCann couldn’t handle it, and the A’s led 2-1.

Stephen Vogt’s sacrifice fly made it 3-1, but Hicks would get even when he threw a strike to the plate to nail Valencia on Yonder Alonso’s fly to left. That kept it a two-run game.

Burns had three hits from the leadoff spot. The slumping Khris Davis was back in left field and though he struck out twice, he also had two singles, including a two-run base hit up the middle in the eighth that extended Oakland’s lead to 5-1.

In the field:

The seventh inning included an error from Burns, but also a terrific double play by Coghlan, who tagged Didi Gregorius going by and threw to first to get Aaron Hicks.

Attendance:

A crowd of 37,396 was on hand.

Up next:

The A’s wrap this three-game series Thursday with Rich Hill (1-2, 4.15) matching up against right-hander Luis Severino (0-2, 5.91). First pitch is 4:05 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>