Posey on Giants' minds as S.F. visits Marlins

August 12, 2011, 1:51 pm
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August 12, 2011

GIANTS (64-54) vs.
FLORIDA (55-62)

Coverage begins at 3:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

MIAMI (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants were swept the last time they faced the Florida Marlins, and they also suffered a much bigger loss.

Catcher Buster Posey sustained a season-ending injury in that series more than two months ago, but the defending World Series champions have more pressing concerns as the clubs meet in Miami for a three-game set.

The slumping Giants begin a 10-game trip Friday night looking to avoid a fifth straight loss to the Marlins, losers of seven in a row.

The Giants (64-54) dropped three games to Florida (55-62) from May 24-26, and they lost Posey in the middle game of that series, a 7-6, 12-inning defeat May 25. The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year suffered a fractured bone in his lower left leg and three torn ligaments in his ankle on a collision at the plate with rookie Scott Cousins.

The play sparked a debate regarding catcher safety and plays at the plate, and Giants general manager Brian Sabean created a stir by calling Cousin's play malicious and unnecessary during a radio interview.

Cousins, now on the 60-day disabled list with a lower back strain, also received death threats following the play.

"I'm sure it's on (Major League Baseball's) map," catcher John Buck told the Marlins' official website. "Obviously since (the Giants) kind of caused a ruckus even after we left. I'm sure they'll be keeping an eye on the games."

The Giants, losers of 10 of 13, are keeping a close eye on the NL West standings. San Francisco had led the division since June 25 until falling a half-game behind Arizona with a 9-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

"Right now, their confidence is shaken," manager Bruce Bochy said of his players.

The Giants, though, realize they have time to make a run similar to 2010, when they closed 20-10 to finish atop the West.

"We've got a lot of baseball left," said outfielder Cody Ross, last season's NLCS MVP who makes his return to Florida after being waived by the Marlins on Aug. 22. "We've got to go out and play like champions. We're not doing it."

Neither is Florida, which hasn't won since reaching the .500 mark for the first time since June with a victory over New York on Aug. 2. The Marlins' skid continued with a 6-2 defeat at Atlanta on Wednesday.

If Florida is going to get back on track, it will need better efforts from its starters, who have a 6.94 ERA during the slide.

"Our starting pitching has got to get tough and hold them down early in the game," manager Jack McKeon said. "We cannot keep battling back, fighting an uphill battle, four or five runs every two or three innings in the beginning of the ballgame - it's not going to work."

Ricky Nolasco (8-8, 3.86 ERA) has been a rare bright spot in the rotation of late, going 2-1 with a 2.33 in his last three outings. He threw seven innings of two-run ball in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on Saturday.

The right-hander improved to 3-0 with a 0.76 ERA in San Francisco with 8 1-3 innings in a 5-1 victory May 24. He hasn't been as effective at home against the Giants, going 0-2 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts.

Matt Cain (9-8, 3.00) yielded four runs in six innings May 24, but he's 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts at Florida.

The Giants, averaging a league-worst 3.4 runs, have given Cain only 3.1 runs of support per nine innings. The return of Carlos Beltran could help, as the right fielder has gone 12 for 36 with a homer off Nolasco.

Bochy was hopeful Beltran, who has missed the last three games with a strained right hand and wrist, could play Friday.

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Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton was 6 for 13 with a home run and five RBIs in San Francisco in May.

The Giants have won three straight and 11 of 15 in Miami.