The exciting game on Sunday was the Golden State Warriors beating Cleveland in game 5 of the NBA finals. As I predicted they lost game 3 and won game 4 big, and by winning game 5 they're in the driver's seat. Steph Curry had a monster game to match James and exceed him in timing his dazzling highlight shots. The Warriors are not intimidated anymore if they ever were. They can deal with Cleveland's bullies and Curry isn't cowed by James.
The Warriors surprised the Cavs in game 4 by going with a smaller lineup. They did it again in game 5 and the Cavs tried to offset it by going small themselves. But it didn't work. They've lost big and small. Still, I believe Bogut will have some important moments (and minutes) for GS before it's over.
While complimenting Curry, James said he wasn't worried because he himself is the greatest player in the world. That of course is what's wrong. He's as close to a one man show as anyone has ever been in the finals, and it's not enough. Curry has a strong team and a strong coach who--even though this is his first year coaching--has won championships as a player. I wouldn't be surprised if game 6 is a virtual rerun of 5, with the Cavs staying close or even slightly ahead for much of the game but unable to sustain in the fourth quarter. The only fly in the ointment possibly is Steph Curry suffering from dehydration effects in the short turnaround for Tuesday. If both he and James are worn out it could be an ugly game. Still, chances are it's Golden State in six. Right now they are the better team.
By contrast, the San Francisco Giants are doing their Mr. Hyde at home act. That road trip and redeye flight home after a night game with the Mets (which they lost) must have really done them in, as they can't hit or score, and Sunday they couldn't field either. They were swept in another home series, and have lost 8 in a row at home.
But on happier matters, you'd think that two players with absurdly perfect baseball names--like power hitter Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik--would be enough for any one team. (Matt Duffy isn't a bad baseball name either.) But now the Giants brought up a relief pitcher named Mike Broadway. Another hard thrower in the bullpen, at least for awhile.
Stories Sunday said the Giants are scouting a Reds starting pitcher. This while Cain and Peavy are warming up in the minors. Seems a bit odd. Vogelsong seems most likely to lose his spot in the rotation if one of them comes back, but if both do, is there room for anyone else?
Hitting into two rally-killing double plays on Sunday may have finally doomed Casey McGehee. He was given a chance to get his hitting back in the minors, did well there, but hasn't done much but make big outs since he's been back.
Sunday also showed Bochy that Justin Maxwell can't play center field. He not only muffed a routine fly for a run, the substitute radio announcing team suggested the double over his head that scored two runs earlier may have been catchable. Unfortunately two outfielders, Pence and Blanco are DL. The team brought up outfielder Jarrett Parker who got his first major league hit Sunday. Which was about the only thing the crowd had to cheer about. At least until later, the Golden State game.
Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Pirates are flying high, having swept a 3 game series with the Phillies by winning 1-0 in the 11th. The powerful Pirates won the series with pitching and defense, and a few timely hits. A. J. Burnett pitched nine scoreless on Sunday, and earlier in the series Garrett Cole became the Major League's first ten game winner.
Of course everybody beats up on the Phillies these days, and the Pirates are still 6 games back of St. Louis. Even after underperforming against Milwaukee they've moving basically in the right direction. All the pieces are there, but they'll need to put them together with some consistency in the meat of the season.
Despite their recent woeful play, the Giants are only 3.5 back of Los Angeles. They're so streaky that it's hard to figure out whether they are overperforming when they win or underperforming when they lose. Basically they seem a really talented team. They look to remain competitive.