Bay Area Sports Beat: What You Need to Know Right Now
To the victor, go the spoils.
Pushed to the brink of elimination, Team USA surged back with seven straight victories to knot America’s Cup at eight wins apiece. A day later, skipper Jimmy Spithill and his international crew capped the historic 9-8 comeback with a thrilling 44-second win against the Aussies in the winner-take-all finale to retain the Auld Mug.
It didn’t come easy. For eight straight races, Spithill steered Oracle’s space-age, 72-foot catamaran through erratic winds and shifting currents with little to no margin of error.
“We just knew it was going to be a tough race,” Spithill told ESPN. “I just have to much confidence in the boys on board and the boat. When you sail these boats, you’re on the edge. You really red-line them the whole way. They keep you on your toes. It’s a very demanding boat but it’s very rewarding at the same time.”
After dropping their last two games by a combined score of 58-10, the banged-up San Francisco 49ers hunkered down on offense to rout the St. Louis Rams 35-11 on Thursday night.
Colin Kaepernick wasn’t dazzling, but he didn’t need to be. In fact, the youngster looked more like the game-managing Alex Smith out there on the field than the dual-threat, speedster we’ve all come to expect under center this year.
Still, head coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers returned to the team’s bread and butter -- the ground ‘em pound ‘em style of offense that has served them well with Frank Gore running the show. The nine-year veteran accrued a 153-yard performance on the ground which included a 34-yard touchdown run on a gutsy fourth-and-1 that broke open the game.
As for the defense, it did more than hold its own without stars Aldon Smith (non-football injury list) and Patrick Willis (groin) this past week. Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman proved to be the team’s defensive anchor, finishing the game with two sacks, a pass deflection and a forced fumble.
We can all now give a collective sigh of relief.
A Giant Season to Forget
Bad pitching, poor run support, and a few key injuries have all led to an ugly season for the San Francisco Giants. The team finished an ugly ten games below-.500 (third in NL-West) and will more than likely make a few surprising roster moves this offseason to retool for next year.
The biggest shock came this weekend when the Giants agreed to a five-year, $90 million extension with outfielder Hunter Pence, which may leave some skeptical. But among the top names in the free agent class this offseason, Pence is one of the biggest. His solid .282/.339/.484 slash line remains on par with his career marks, and he also finished this season with career highs in home runs (27) and stolen bases (22) while tallying the second-highest career-mark in doubles (35).
Meanwhile, San Francisco will likely bid farewell to a few of its most notorious players of the past decade. The once highly-prized free agent Barry Zito, who burned up more than 13 percent of the team’s payroll in 2013 ($20 million), will likely be shown the door. And Tim Lincecum could be next. The two-time Cy Young winner hoped to pitch his way into another lofty extension in San Francisco. But the right-hander pitched well under his worth during his two-year $40 million contract, yielding career-worsts in winning percentage, ERA and WHIP.
Though it may be easy to say goodbye to their hefty contracts, it’s hard to see the San Francisco Giants win two World Series championships without Zito and Lincecum.
With that said, it appears the Giants will have some financial flexibility as they move into the offseason. Let's hope they can capitalize on it.
For more on the Bay Area sports beat, follow @nicktrenchard