Giants BP helps close out Tigers in World Series

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Giants BP helps close out Tigers in World Series

DETROIT (AP) Jeremy Affeldt was first. Then Santiago Casilla came on and got the ball to Sergio Romo, who closed it out for San Francisco.

When Matt Cain was unable to finish off the Detroit Tigers, his buddies in the bullpen took over.

Affeldt, Casilla and Romo combined for three scoreless innings in relief of Cain, striking out seven in all to help the Giants to a 4-3 victory in Game 4 that clinched the World Series title for the Giants on Sunday night.

Romo struck out the side in the 10th inning, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for the final out, for his fourth save of the postseason.

``He's a guy you want out there,'' San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. ``He's not afraid and commands the ball so well. Really, I know this is a play on words, he saved us all year.''

The 5-foot-11 right-hander became the first pitcher to save at least three games in the World Series since John Wetteland did it for the New York Yankees in 1996.

``Romo has that unhittable slider and he never let the moment get to him,'' fellow Giants pitcher Javier Lopez said. ``He just went in there and attacked the zone like he's done all year long and you saw the results.

``He's a little man that pitches like a big man.''

Casilla hit Omar Infante, breaking his left hand, in the ninth, but bounced back by getting Gerald Laird to hit into a fielder's choice and got the win.

Affeldt gave up a leadoff walk in the eighth inning, then struck out the middle of Detroit's lineup - Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young - while pitching 1 2-3 innings.

While the bullpen gets credit for its performance, Affeldt dished some back to Cain.

``What an amazing job keeping us in the game seven innings so we didn't need to use our `pen until late in the game,'' Affeldt said.

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RETURN TRIP: Manager Bruce Bochy guided San Francisco to the 2010 championship and to another title on Sunday night.

But long before that, he was a backup catcher for the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series.

``That was so long ago, but it is amazing how things come back around,'' Bochy said.

In his only at-bat, he got a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning of Game 5 at Tiger Stadium, the day Detroit closed out the championship.

``I have great memories of being in the World Series, not real good ones on how it came out,'' he said.

``But what a thrill for any player, and of course myself, when you get to the World Series for the first time. We had split in San Diego, then came here and they beat us here,'' he said. ``But great time for me, I got one at-bat, and I was thrilled that Dick Williams put me in there.''

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HALL OF FAME PRAISE: Al Kaline played in an era of greats, from Ted Williams to Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson.

Yet the former Detroit standout says the top guy he watched was someone he never faced in a regular-season game.

Kaline, now 77 and a special assistant for the Tigers, was at AT&T Park in San Francisco earlier in the World Series. Willie Mays, at 81, took part in the first-ball ceremony honoring Giants stars before Game 1.

``Willie Mays was the best player I ever saw,'' Kaline said. ``I was lucky to see a lot of them. But Willie was something special.''

``To me, he was the poster boy for baseball. The way he played, his enthusiasm and his ability,'' Kaline said of his fellow Hall of Famer.

The Tigers and Giants had never met in postseason play before this year, and there was no interleague play in their day. With Detroit working out in Florida and the Giants in Arizona, they didn't see each other in spring training.

Mays made his first All-Star team in 1954 and Kaline was first picked a year later. They were then chosen in every summer showcase through 1967.

``That's where I got to see him, and he was fun to watch. He could really play,'' Kaline said.

Kaline, however, said he never got to spend much time with Mays.

``I see him at the Hall of Fame and like to stop by, shake his hand and just be who I am,'' he said. ``I'm not kidding myself. I was a good player. But he was great. There aren't too many who were at his level.''

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ON PITCH: Jim Leyland is in tune with Justin Verlander.

``I'm aware of his singing skills,'' the Tigers' ace said Sunday. ``I've seen it a couple times at some hotels. In the hotel bar sometimes they'll have a setup and he gets on the mic.''

Leyland has managed the Tigers since 2006. Verlander's entire career has been under Leyland, except for his first two games in 2005.

``He's an old school manager, and I feel maybe if I had played for a different manager, things might not be the same as they are now, where they let me go out and be that workhorse and throw 120 pitches an outing,'' Verlander said.

``You see some teams that are a little different in that regard. But I consider myself an old school pitcher, and I think Skip considers himself an old school manager. He allows me to go out there and do what I do.''

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Wizards take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

Wizards take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

With their 104-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Wizards improved to 22-19 overall through 41 games, the exact midpoint of the 2016-17 season. They play again the next night in New York, so there will be little time for reflection of how they got here. But after beating the Grizzlies, head coach Scott Brooks and several of his players took a look back and a look ahead.

After beginning the season 2-8, they are now three games over .500. What have they liked about their season so far, and what do they still believe can be improved?

Brooks went into extensive detail.

“I didn’t like our start; I liked the last part of the first half, where we’ve played a much better since December. The thing I liked about the start [is that] we didn’t give in to a tough start, we kept battling and figuring out ways to get better – we’re tweaking and tinkering with the lineup, the starters mixing with some of the guys coming off of the bench. Some of our younger players have really done a good job of developing and staying with it when they’re not playing. It can be tough on you mentally, but I think our staff has done a good job to keep them engaged and keep them developing.

"I think Kelly [Oubre] has made some strides. He’s taken a few steps forward [and] taken a step back, but the step back he takes, he doesn’t get frustrated and takes another step. He always seems to bounce back and come back. Otto [Porter] has, I think, developed into the most consistent shooter in the league from the three. Every night it seems like he has it. And John [Wall] and Brad [Beal], I like the way they’re playing and leading. March [Marcin Gortat] has done a good job. I think we’re playing much better because we’re really buying into each other, and I think when you do that, teams have trouble beating us. I think at home, we’ve figured that out, but we have to figure out how to do it on the road.”

Guard Bradley Beal agreed with Brooks, that he was most pleased with how the Wizards rebounded from their dreadful start. 

“I like how we fought through adversity. I think we didn't give up on our slow start. We battled back and now we're over .500 now but just imagine if we were playing the way we were supposed to the first couple of games, our record would probably be a lot different. Definitely proud of the way we've been playing, the way we bounced back. We definitely can get better at playing great defense for 48 minutes, being locked in for 48 minutes. Just making sure we continue to respect our opponents and be prepared for every game moving forward.” 

[RELATED: CMills asks why Wall, Beal don't get more national attention]

Otto Porter gave a few reasons why he thinks they are playing better now than before.

“Back then it was early. We were still figuring each other out. New coaches, new players. Right now, we are starting to figure things out. We are confident in ourselves, playing for each other, playing hard and just rolling with it... Just, I guess figuring out things defensively. Everybody is on the same page. Offensively, just letting the game come to us. Moving the ball, and knowing that we want to be a defensive team," he said.

Improving away from the Verizon Center was a common theme in the answers from players. The Wizards are now 18-6 at home, while only the Golden State Warriors have more home wins. On the road, the Wizards are only 4-13 with the Nets the only NBA team featuring less road victories.

That's enough to give them the fifth seed in the East, but they know they still have plenty of work to do.

“We have a lot we can improve on: just closing out games, playing for a full 48-minutes, moving the ball at times when we get stagnant, but I like the effort that we gave," guard John Wall said of the first half of the season. "The way that we started the season, the way we had a great month of December, and we're playing well right now. It's great to take care of home court, just want to for the second half of the season improve on the road. If we can find a way to improve on the road I feel like we could have a better record. To be in the situation we are now, the way that we started the season, you can't ask for more.”

The Wizards were in a reflective mood, but Marcin Gortat put it bluntly where he thinks the Wizards are currently at.

“[The 22-19 record means] nothing. We have to continue to do what we do. We aren’t getting excited. We’ve been in this situation where we’ve been minus-five, under .500. We just have to focus and play and now we have to get some wins on the road," he said.

[RELATED: Grizzlies pay for ignoring Otto Porter]

Last-second layup secures Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech

Last-second layup secures Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Seth Allen scored the final two of his 17 points on a layup with 15 seconds left to lift Virginia Tech to a 62-61 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

It was a game the Hokies needed after losing three of their past four games. Allen hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and Zach LeDay added 17 points.

Virginia Tech (14-4 overall, 3-3 ACC) led by as many as nine in the second half, but couldn't put away the Yellow Jackets (11-7, 3-3), who had two chances in the final seconds to take the lead. Georgia Tech turned the ball over with :09 left, and then fouled Virginia Tech's Justin Robinson, who missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Quinton Stephens missed a contested jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game for Georgia Tech.

Stephens paced the Yellow Jackets with 18 points.

MORE NCAA: Should Georgetown consider parting ways with John Thompson III?