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

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

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.

RELATED: Beltran gets a cortisone shot, DL possible

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.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.