Though the Miami Marlins' playoff chances continue to fade, the lingering possibility of their injured star slugger returning this season could provide some sort of a consolation.
As Giancarlo Stanton continues his recovery from a serious facial injury, the visiting Marlins try to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat in Sunday's finale against the Philadelphia Phillies.Hit in the face by a pitch at Milwaukee on Thursday, Stanton is expected to get his stitches out Tuesday and then undergo further testing. Though Miami (71-76) is 6 1/2 games out of the NL's final wild-card spot, the team has not ruled out their NL MVP candidate from playing in the next two weeks.Stanton leads the NL in homers (37) and ranks among the major league leaders in RBIs (105)."We'll probably know more a little more Tuesday," Marlins manager Mike Redmond told MLB's official website. "For me, knowing G, and the kind of guy he is, he's going to want to come back and play. But we'll see if that's even a possibility."Miami, which wasn't scoring with Stanton in the lineup, has totaled five runs during its four-game skid. Garrett Jones homered as Miami lost for the 12th time in 15 games at Philadelphia, 2-1 on Saturday."We've got to find a way to get more than one run," Redmond said.Despite Miami's offensive struggles, Marcell Ozuna is batting .429 while hitting safely in nine consecutive games.He went 1 for 3 against rookie David Buchanan (6-7, 3.90 ERA), when he allowed two runs, six hits and walked four over five innings of a 7-4 home victory over the Marlins on June 24.The right-hander, who has allowed more than three earned runs twice in 17 starts, has a 2.94 ERA while going 0-2 in his last six. He has allowed four earned runs and 11 hits but eight walks over 16 innings in his last three starts. He yielded two earned in six innings of a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday."Main thing, just start using my fastball more and just really focus on hitting my spots," said Buchanan as he continues to make a case for a spot in the Phillies rotation next season.Miami counters with Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.74), who is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Phillies (69-79) this season. The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out seven in six innings of a 5-0 home victory over Philadelphia on July 2.Koehler is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in his last six starts, but has not factored in the decision of four straight. He gave up two runs in five innings of a 6-3 victory at Milwaukee on Tuesday.Ben Revere is 5 for 9 against Koehler.The Philadelphia leadoff man went 2 for 17 in his first eight games against the Marlins this season but is batting .379 (11 for 29) in his last six.Marlon Byrd, who had an RBI double Saturday, is 0 for 8 with three strikeouts versus Koehler.