Plays at home plate had long been a part of baseball, but on this day 10 years ago, one of those drew more criticism than usual.
At AT&T Park, Florida Marlins’ utility outfielder Scott Cousins ran over San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey in the 12th inning to score the winning run as the Marlins held on for a 7-6 victory.
With one out in the top of the 12th on May 25, 2011, Cousins stood at third as Emilio Bonifacio came to the plate for Florida to face San Francisco right-hander Guillermo Mota. As a pinch hitter, Cousins had hit into a fielder’s choice before advancing to third on an Omar Infante single.
With the count 2-2, Bonifacio lifted a fly ball into shallow right field. Cousins tagged up and was coming home. The throw from right fielder Nate Schierholtz was on the mark and appeared to be on time, but Posey was unable to catch it cleanly. As he turned to his left, he was met by Cousins in a nasty collision.
Cousins immediately checked to see if Posey was OK, but he was clearly not. The National League Rookie of the Year in 2010, Posey wound up breaking a bone in his leg and tearing ligaments in his ankle, which would force him to miss the rest of the season.
Posey was carried off the field before Chris Coghlan lined out to end the inning for Florida. Reliever Burke Badenhop worked a perfect inning in the bottom of the 12th to seal the win.
Marlins’ manager Edwin Rodriguez would probably say that Cousins should have never been in that situation. Florida led 3-2 after eight innings before a three-run double from Giancarlo (then known as Mike) Stanton gave the Marlins a 6-2 lead in the top of the ninth.
The Giants forced extra innings with four runs in the bottom of the inning. After a passed ball scored a run and Pat Burrell drove in another one, Aubrey Huff came through with a two-out, two-run single to even the game, 6-6. Stanton and San Francisco’s Freddie Sanchez each had four hits in the contest.
As for Cousins, he would face criticism from Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean and former big-league catcher and eventual manager Mike Matheny to go along with death threats from baseball outsiders. Many however, particularly within the Marlins’ organization, came to his defense.
The collision would ultimately lead to rules changes regarding plays at the plate. Posey would recover to win National League MVP the following season and has since made six All-Star games.
As for Cousins, he’d play in fewer than 150 career games at the big-league level with 128 coming as a member of the Marlins. During his time in South Florida, Cousins scored just 14 runs. By far the most notable of those, came on this day a decade ago.