PHOENIX -- Discussing and dissecting a team's hitting problems is as old as baseball itself. But when a manager such as the Giants' Bruce Bochy cites a lack of offense as the primary flaw that separates his club from the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, attention must be paid.Following Arizona's
PHOENIX -- Discussing and dissecting a team's hitting problems is as old as baseball itself. But when a manager such as the Giants' Bruce Bochy cites a lack of offense as the primary flaw that separates his club from the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, attention must be paid.
Following Arizona's 3-1 victory Thursday night over the Giants, Bochy pointed to an extremely basic statistic -- batting average with runners in scoring position -- to illustrate the difference between the teams. The D-backs captured the series, winning twice in three games, They're 13-5, compared to the Giants' 7-11.
Yet Bochy believed that it wouldn't take much for San Francisco to close the gap. Upgrading their hitting with men on second base or beyond would be a start. Because, right now, the Giants rank last in the Major Leagues with a .154 batting average in those situations.
"That's not going to work," Bochy said. He also promised, "It will pick up, sooner or later."
Trying to accelerate this process, Bochy announced that outfielder Mac Williamson, who has remained one of baseball's hottest hitters since Spring Training, has left Triple-A Sacramento and will join the Giants in Anaheim on Friday. Specific terms of Williamson's promotion have yet to be finalized. But with left fielder Hunter Pence enduring a sore right wrist and batting .172, it's easy to envision Williamson replacing him.
"Mostly he's coming up because he's been swinging the bat well. We hope he can be a shot in the arm for this offense," Bochy said of Williamson, who's batting .467 with six home runs, 16 RBIs and an otherworldly 1.626 OPS in 11 games. That followed a Spring Training performance in which Williamson hit .318 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and a 1.061 OPS.
Pence has been ailing since he made a diving attempt to catch a drive hit by Seattle's Robinson Cano in the April 3 home opener.
"It's going backwards. It's not getting better," Pence said.
Any surge in the Giants' offense probably will involve Brandon Belt. His second-inning homer accounted for the Giants' scoring. Belt batted with two outs in the ninth after Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey singled, but he fouled out to third base against D-backs closer Brad Boxberger.
The Giants wasted another respectable pitching performance, this one by Ty Blach (1-3). Blach worked six innings and allowed six hits, including David Peralta's third-inning RBI single and A.J. Pollock's sixth-inning homer. Ketel Marte contributed a seventh-inning homer off Giants reliever Reyes Moronta to help Arizona's cause.
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It's unfair to expect perfection from Giants pitchers while the team is stuck offensively. Nevertheless, the Giants appeared to be -- and indeed were -- finished competitively once Pollock connected for his sixth-inning homer. That scratched Blach from the list of pitchers to have logged at least 20 innings without allowing a homer. Giants starters Johnny Cueto and Chris Stratton remain on this list.
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The trajectory and majesty of Belt's homer should have been impressive. And, in fact, it was his sixth-longest since Statcast™'s inception in 2015, traveling a projected 429 feet. Combined with his extra-inning, game-winning clout on Wednesday, Belt hit two homers in successive at-bats.
The Giants return to Interleague play Friday with the opener of a three-game series against the Angels. Freshly removed from the disabled list, Jeff Samardzija will try to avoid the injury bug (strained right pectoral) that forced to miss nearly a month of the season. He'll be opposed by left-hander Andrew Heaney.
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.