San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows his lineup has to continue to improve, but right now, he can’t complain about how it’s performing in the clutch.
Looking to match a season high with their sixth straight victory, the NL West-leading Giants will try to extend their longest home winning streak in seven seasons to 10 on Tuesday night when they face the Florida Marlins.
San Francisco (27-19) failed to score more than four runs through nine innings for the 16th time in 17 games Sunday, but the defending World Series champions beat Oakland 5-4 in 11 innings to win their fifth in a row.
“Right now we’re starting to swing the bats better, but until we get this offense clicking, it’s going to be vital for us to have the pitchers throwing the ball the way they are,” Bochy told the team’s official website.
While their starters have strung together 15 straight games without giving up more than three earned runs, the Giants also have come through at the plate when it matters most. They improved to 11-0 at home in one-run games Sunday when Emmanuel Burriss(notes) singled home Darren Ford(notes) for the deciding run - the team’s seventh walkoff win.
San Francisco has won 14 of 18 overall, including a nine-game home winning streak which is its longest since a 9-0 stretch May 25-June 17, 2004.
Giving the ball to Matt Cain(notes) (3-2, 3.28 ERA) could help San Francisco inch closer to its longest undefeated stretch at its 11-year-old waterfront ballpark, an 11-game run July 7-25, 2003. He’s 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last six starts there - three this season and three in last year’s playoffs.
The right-hander did not earn a decision Wednesday, but he struck out a season-high seven and pitched into the eighth inning for a second consecutive start in an 8-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cain has allowed more than three runs just once in nine starts this year and has never done so in seven outings versus Florida, going 3-0 with a 2.98 ERA.
The Marlins (26-19) begin a nine-game trip with right-hander Ricky Nolasco(notes) (3-0, 3.32) looking to continue his dominance in San Francisco. The Southern California native is 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two starts at AT&T Park and threw the only shutout of his career there Aug. 19, 2008.
“I’ve just been able to go there and make pitches,” he told the Marlins’ official website. “Obviously, they are a good team built around their pitching. They have been playing good as of late, so I’m just going out and try to do the same thing and make pitches.”
If Nolasco struggles, manager Edwin Rodriguez can turn to a bullpen which is among the league’s best with a 2.64 ERA. Florida’s relievers threw six shutout innings and struck out a season-best eight in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay.
Marlins pitching has held Buster Posey(notes) to three hits in 15 at-bats, all during the teams’ last series - a four-game split July 26-29 in San Francisco. The reigning NL rookie of the year, who is 1 for 3 against Nolasco, enters this three-game set on an 11-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .390.
Florida’s Logan Morrison(notes) will try to reach base safely for the 25th straight game after drawing a two-out, ninth-inning walk Sunday. In his major league debut, Morrison singled off Cain for his first big-league hit in a 6-4 loss July 27.
Cain lasted seven innings in that game, surrendering three runs while not earning a decision.
This will be the first game against the Marlins for outfielder Cody Ross(notes), whom the Giants claimed off waivers from Florida on Aug. 22. Ross played a key role in San Francisco’s playoff run and was named MVP of the NL championship series.