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


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.

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every time the Houston Rockets tried to pull away, the Sacramento Kings answered Wednesday night in the team’s home opener. It was a heavyweight contender throwing body blows at a 100-to-1 underdog riding a huge home crowd advantage.

And then the ref called the fight.

With the Kings trailing 98-95 with 26 seconds remaining, the Rockets attempted to inbounds the ball and George Hill made a play. From the video replay, it appeared that the ball tipped off the fingertips of Houston's Eric Gordon and the nearest official called Kings ball.

Hill and teammate Garrett Temple celebrated the turnover and the sold out crowd went crazy.

The play went under review and not only was the call overturned, but Hill was assessed a personal foul. Gordon went to the line and hit two freebies to give the Rockets a 100-95 lead and effectively ended Sacramento’s chances.

In the confusion of the moment, it turns out that an official on the opposite side of the court called a personal foul and the replay wasn’t to check on possession, but to determine which Kings player would be assessed a personal foul.  

The Kings can’t call shenanigans on the officials, the league has stiff penalties for that. But they seemed just as confused as everyone else in the building when asked about the call during postgame interviews.

“I could have swore that the refs pointed out of bounds, our ball, but they said they called a foul, so it is, what it is,” Hill said following the game.

Hill avoided digging himself a hole with the league and a potential fine as reporters tried to dig deeper. 

Head coach Dave Joerger gave an account of what the officials said following the call, but he too seemed perplexed by the play.

“That was a foul,” Joerger said of what the officials told him on the sidelines. “I adamantly disagreed. They said they called it at the time, which I didn’t see. So that was more my argument than whether it was a foul or not.”

Sacramento continued to compete in the final seconds, but they were forced to foul intentionally down the stretch and the Rockets were able to hold them at bay to come away with the 105-100 victory.

Report: Gordon Hayward 'unlikely to return' this season


Report: Gordon Hayward 'unlikely to return' this season

Despite the severity of Gordon Hayward's injury, there was a small bit of hope that he might be able to return this season.

It appears that won't happen.

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night and is "unlikely to return this season," his agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.

"We expect him to make a full recovery and return to his All-Star form," Bartelstein told ESPN.

The Celtics' prized offseason acquisition suffered the terrifying ankle injury just five minutes into his Boston debut on Tuesday night. He was diagnosed with a dislocated left ankle and broken tibia.

After playing in Cleveland on Tuesday, the Celtics returned to Boston for their home opener on Wednesday against the Bucks. Prior to the game, a 30-second video message from Hayward to the fans was played in the arena.

“What’s up, everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s had me in their thoughts and prayers,” Hayward said. “I’m going to be all right. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and walk out on that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here, and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight.”