Registrato: 28/09/18 10:36
|SAN FRANCISCO — Right-hander Jack Flaherty returns to the scene of his major league debut last September when he closes out a four-game series for the St. Louis Cardinals against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon.
Flaherty (3-4 , 3.19 ERA) will attempt not only to give the Cardinals a 3-1 win in the four-game series but to reward manager Mike Matheny with his fifth series win in seven return visits to San Francisco, where he played the final two years of his career.
Matheny has never lost a series as a manager in San Francisco, winning four and tying the other two. He is assured of at least a tie in this one as well, with the Cardinals having posted 11-2 and 3-2 wins sandwiching a 3-2 loss on Friday night.
Flaherty was just 21 years old when he debuted for the Cardinals last Sept. 1 in an 11-6 win in San Francisco.
He did not get credit for the win, going only four innings, during which he was roughed up for five runs and eight hits. He’s thus 0-0 with an 11.25 ERA against the Giants.
Brandon Crawford doubled and homered against Flaherty, and Hunter Pence lashed a two-run triple.
The California native will be seeking to snap a two-game losing streak. He has allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 10 innings in losses to Cleveland and Arizona.
Flaherty will be backed by a Cardinals defense that has been superb against the Giants, having committed just one error in the three games. That lone miscue was an errant throw by backup catcher Francisco Pena on a steal attempt.
“That’s kind of the initiative we have going on right now: bolstering our defense ,” Matheny noted Saturday. “Let’s play a cleaner defensive game. And then hope that we get contributions offensively. Let’s figure out ways to make sure we’re catching the ball to help reinforce the great starts that we’ve been getting.”
Luke Weaver, John Gant and Carlos Martinez have provided that pitching in San Francisco. The Giants have totaled just seven runs in the series, extending to six games their streak of scoring three or fewer.
Martinez even contributed an RBI double to Saturday’s win.
The Giants have hit a cumulative .167 in their last six games, five of which they’ve lost.
San Francisco will be counting on ace Madison Bumgarner (1-3, 2.58) to contribute both on the mound and at the plate in the series finale.
The Giants have supported their pitching leader with just 14 runs in his six starts. He hasn’t helped his own cause; the slugger with 17 career homers has gone 0-for-14 so far this season.
The left-hander has pitched brilliantly in his last three starts, allowing just three runs (two of which were earned) and 12 hits in 21 innings.
Bumgarner often has not been at his best against the Cardinals in his career, going 3-5 with a 4.38 ERA in eight starts. He hasn’t beaten St. Louis since 2014.
One player who has never figured out Bumgarner is Kolten Wong, who has been the big hitter in the series with six hits , including a double and a triple, and two RBIs.
He’s 0-for-9 with two strikeouts in his career against Bumgarner.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he has not talked to Seattle since the draft, more than two months ago. Translation: That’s the last time the Cowboys and Seahawks discussed a possible trade for disgruntled safety Earl Thomas.
Since Jones can’t talk about a player under contract to another team, he was asked a hypothetical question about a player on another team who the Cowboys reportedly have interest in. Translation: Do you have interest in a trade for Earl Thomas?
“I don’t like to answer hypotheticals,” Jones said. “I’ll start with that. You know my point is always this: We are always looking to be better in terms of improving our roster. We think we’ve got a real solid roster in place right now. It’s going to be very competitive. I actually believe this is going to be one of the more interesting camps in years because of some of the unknowns that are out there. No one is naive here. We miss [Jason] Witten’s production and Dez [Bryant’s] production. Somebody’s going to have to step up. I did notice where Tony [Romo] said no one knew Miles Austin was going to be Miles Austin either until he got an opportunity. I think there’s going to be stories like that that can unfold.
“In the meantime, as we watch these players battle, and we watch these players compete, to take up some of the slack when you’re missing Hall of Fame-type players in a Jason Witten and Dez and all the great things he did for us , then we will be observing that. When opportunities arise out there to improve our roster, then we’re going to jump on that. You are always aware of what’s going on, whether players are reporting or unhappy or those types of things. Sometimes those do lead to opportunities, so we will keep an eye on that.”
The Cowboys have Jeff Heath returning at strong safety, but they will have a new free safety. The Cowboys have moved Byron Jones to cornerback. He started all 16 games at free safety last season.
Second-year player Xavier Woods is penciled in as the starter at free safety.
“We were really pleased that these guys did a have good offseason,” Jones said. “But you don’t play the game in shorts and shells. A lot of it is going to come to fruition out here, but we do believe there are players who are going to step up. Xavier Woods did a lot of impressive things, not unexpected. We gave up a future pick to get him [in the draft last year]. One of his biggest attributes was making plays on the ball. That is showing up. One of the biggest parts of playing defense is if you can make plays and create turnovers and do those type of things. He has certainly showed a propensity to do that. Of course , we have Heath back there. Kavon [Frazier] did some good things. We have some young players who will be competing as well.
“We will continue to look for ways to improve that situation if we feel like is needed, and if the right situation presents itself, then we would look at it.”
The Cowboys declined to give Seattle a second-round pick for Thomas during the second day of the draft, choosing offensive lineman Connor Williams instead. Thomas, though, reportedly will hold out of training camp and has asked the Seahawks to trade him if they don’t extend his contract.