MIAMI -- Missed time has made it highly unlikely that Giancarlo Stanton will win the National League home run title.
But finishing second certainly is a strong possibility.
Stanton has made a thunderous return to the lineup after he sat out nine straight games with a sore left intercostal muscle. The 22-year-old homered in each of the first two games against the Phillies.
With 36 homers on the season, Stanton is in sole possession of second place in the National League, trailing only Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who has 41.
"Every time this kid is at the plate, he's in scoring position," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Like I say, I don't want long ones, I want a lot of ones. I got both -- a lot and long ones. I'm happy for him."
No Marlin has ever been NL home run champion. Just once has someone finished as high as second -- Gary Sheffield in 1996.
Sheffield set the franchise record with 42 homers in '96, and he ended up tied with San Francisco's Barry Bonds for second. The NL leader that year was Andres Galarraga, who finished with 47 for the Rockies.
What makes Stanton's total so impressive is he's reached 36 in 119 games. He spent a month on the disabled list after undergoing right knee surgery on July 8.
For the first time since June 30-July 1, Stanton has homered in back-to-back games at home. Those shots also were against the Phillies.
Due to his injuries, it would have been easy for Stanton to not risk anything and sit out the rest of the season. But he wanted to finish up on a high note. And he's produced in a big way.
"I'm happy he came back and did it that way," Guillen said. "This kid, besides the home run, he got a base hit up the middle, infield hit. That's something that's a plus. This kid is a good athlete, and hopefully he can finish the next four days.
"Hopefully next year he stays healthy and has a better year."
Buehrle set to start finale, but plans could change
MIAMI -- For now, Mark Buehrle remains scheduled to start Miami's season finale on Wednesday.
But that remains subject to change.
Buehrle eclipsed the 200-innings mark in his previous start, throwing eight strong innings on Friday night against the Phillies. He gave up one run and matched his season high with eight strikeouts in a no-decision.
Now with 202 1/3 innings, Buehrle has gone 12 straight seasons with at least 200 innings.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Buehrle is just the second starter ever with 200-plus innings and less than 65 walks in 12 consecutive years. The other was the legendary Cy Young, who did it 13 straight seasons (1897-1909).
In case he came up a little short, the Marlins reworked their rotation a few weeks back, giving Buehrle one last chance to reach the milestone. Initially, Josh Johnson was lined up to close out the season on Wednesday against the Mets, who are going with Jeremy Hefner.
Now that Buehrle has passed 200 innings, the organization is weighing what to do for the finale.
Buehrle is ready to pitch, if that is what is decided. If not, the team could go with someone like Tom Koehler, who started at Triple-A New Orleans. The right-hander has pitched in relief since being called up in September.
Wade LeBlanc or Chad Gaudin are other options.
Solano riding hitting streak, flirting with .300
MIAMI -- Donovan Solano has turned plenty of heads during his rookie season with the Marlins.
After an impressive Spring Training, Solano missed out on the team's Opening Day roster. Since getting called up in late May, however, Solano has been one of the Marlins' most consistent players and a bright spot in a tough season.
"I try to do the best I can," Solano said. "I know I need to get hits, play well, everything like that. I know my game and I go out and play."
Solano is flirting with a .300 average, sitting at .299 with three games left on the schedule. After doubling in the fifth inning Sunday, the Colombia-born infielder has a 10-game hitting streak. Solano has two double-digit hit streaks this season. He hit in 12 straight from Aug. 17-29.
During his current hit streak, Solano is batting .447 with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs.
In September, Solano is hitting .311 with 13 RBIs -- one behind Carlos Lee for most on the team this month. He also leads the way with 13 runs scored (tied with Reyes) and 33 hits, coming on strong heading into the offseason, when he will play for Colombia during World Baseball Classic qualifying in Panama in November and possibly play some winter ball to hone his skills.
"I need to keep doing it moving forward for next year," Solano said. "I want to do the same next year."
While Solano has put together an impressive season and made a big impression as a rookie, the question remains as to whether he can be the club's everyday second baseman next season. Sunday was his 53rd start at second, where he has found a home since the Marlins traded Omar Infante to Detroit and Emilio Bonifacio was sidelined by a string of injuries.
"Maybe I can do it, but right now I don't know," Solano said. "It's not my choice, but I want to be the second baseman. I want to be in the lineup every day for the next year. I want to play and represent the Marlins every day, every game and give my heart. I'm so happy if I will be the second baseman."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.