SAN FRANCISCO -- Denard Span and Joe Panik are steadily forming a nice combination at the top of the Giants' batting order, though the club's struggles have obscured this development.It's one of baseball's truths: Often, a leadoff hitter is only as good as his teammate batting second, and vice versa.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Denard Span and Joe Panik are steadily forming a nice combination at the top of the Giants' batting order, though the club's struggles have obscured this development.
It's one of baseball's truths: Often, a leadoff hitter is only as good as his teammate batting second, and vice versa. If one of them reaches base consistently, the other likely will receive better pitches to hit.
Span and Panik, who have thrived unnoticed in recent weeks, finally paced an offensive effort that was illuminated by a victory. In the Giants' 9-2 triumph Monday over the Rockies, they each went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Panik collected two RBIs and Span drove in one run.
Since June 14, both Span and Panik are hitting .380 (19-for-50) with 10 runs scored. Their twin surges were evident against the Rockies. With their help, San Francisco scored in five of eight innings.
"He's been swinging the bat well," Panik said of Span. "For me, it opens up holes. He's a threat to run. He opens up the four-hole [second base] for me and even the six-hole [shortstop]."
They illustrated this in the third inning Monday. Span drew a leadoff walk and broke for second base on a hit-and-run. That's a play that has become nearly extinct in this power-laden era, but as Panik said, "You've got to be able to do those things." Panik neatly stroked a grounder to the spot vacated by Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who covered second base. Story recovered nicely and got his glove on the ball, but that wasn't enough as both Span and Panik were safe. They proceeded to score the pair of runs the Giants notched in that inning.
This game could be considered a template for how the Giants' offense might jell in the future. While other teams join the burgeoning homer-hitting craze, the Giants, playing in their pitcher-friendly ballpark, must get creative. Stubbornly pursuing power might not work.
Immediately after Span and Panik did their thing in the third inning, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt hit impressive drives. None of them cleared the outfield barrier. The flies hit by Pence and Posey died on the warning track, while Belt's caromed off the right-center-field wall for a triple.
"They hit balls that in a lot of parks are home runs," Panik said.
From their perch atop the Giants' batting order, Span and Panik have tried to rise above the fluctuations in the club's fortunes, as well as their own. Span is batting .347 in June after hitting .254 in May. Panik's averaging .368 this month following a .192 May.
"In this game, you have to be able to withstand that," he said.
Span and Panik contributed heavily to the decision that ended Colorado's nine-game winning streak against San Francisco. But despite the Rockies' dominance, Panik insisted the Giants didn't place any extra emphasis on this game.
"I'll be honest with you -- I know they had success against us," Panik said. "But with the way things are, we're not thinking about anything more than just taking care of our business."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.