Posey flashes hustle, might vs. Marlins

Giants star homers, legs out double, scores on wild pitch

Posey flashes hustle, might vs. Marlins

MIAMI -- Buster Posey maintained the run production that has distinguished his June performance, though he added another dimension to his dynamic offense Tuesday in the Giants' 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins.

His legs.

Posey hiked his RBI total for the month to 28, second-most in the Major Leagues, with his third-inning homer off Marlins starter Mat Latos. Interestingly, they hadn't faced each other since Posey hit a grand slam off the right-hander in Game 5 of the 2012 Division Series at Cincinnati.

Posey's solo homer

But it was Posey's proficiency on the basepaths three innings later that proved truly impressive. First, Posey stretched a single into a double by sliding headfirst, angling himself away from Miami second baseman Dee Gordon to grab the bag with his right hand.

Moments later, Posey slid feet-first to score on a wild pitch. The ball bounded only about 15 to 20 feet away from Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto, but Posey's prompt dash enabled him to beat Latos' tag easily.

"I don't know if it's speed," said Posey, who's widely considered more ponderous than fleet. Striving to offer an explanation, he suggested, "Good baserunning."

Posey scores on wild pitch

That results from brains and sweat, a combination that typified multifaceted Giants greats of the past such as Willie Mays and both Bondses, Bobby and Barry. All complemented their slugging with running.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy didn't seem all that surprised by Posey's basepath expertise, which commanded attention June 19 at Los Angeles when the two-time All-Star became the first Giants catcher since 1903 to hit a grand slam and steal a base in the same game.

"He's a better athlete than he's given credit for because he catches," Bochy said.

Then again, Posey caught less this month, due mostly to Brandon Belt's part-time occupancy of left field while Nori Aoki's broken right fibula heals. Posey started 16 games behind the plate and eight at first base, helping keep his legs fresh for forays on the bases such as Tuesday's.

Posey's batting .333 when he starts at first base, compared to .293 as a catcher. But his defensive value behind the plate is bound to keep him there for the majority of the schedule.

"I know what his numbers are when he's playing a lot of first, but he's still going to catch," Bochy said.

Wherever Posey played in June, the Giants needed him, particularly with Aoki and right fielder Hunter Pence sidelined. The Giants finished the month with a 12-14 record, though they trail the first-place Dodgers by a mere one game in the National League West.

"You have to be happy with where we are right now," Posey said. "Hopefully getting Hunter back and Nori not too far after will be a big boost for us."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.