Giants say second half is time for more timely hits
Offense needs to improve its production with runners in scoring position
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants held a team workout at AT&T Park on Thursday night to conclude the All-Star break, and even though manager Bruce Bochy made it optional for those who took part in All-Star Game festivities, Melky Cabrera participated in the workout.
Back with his teammates and coaches for the first time since his MVP performance in Tuesday's All-Star Game, Cabrera receive hearty congratulations and joking requests to borrow the Chevrolet Camaro he received with the award.
"Only once around the block," Cabrera replied to Bochy after the skipper asked if he could take the convertible for a ride.
Bochy and the Giants are hoping that a Midsummer Classic that saw Cabrera and fellow Giants All-Star Pablo Sandoval combine to drive in five runs in the National League's 8-0 win is a precursor to a second half of more production and power hitting from the Giants' lineup.
"It'll be nice for us to drive the ball a little bit more than we did in the first half," Bochy said. "Not just home runs but doubles, triples. Those are the hits that do damage, and there's no question we missed it. Our guys did a great job despite not hitting a lot of home runs. That's something we hope to see improve in the second half."
Cabrera was the only one of the four Giants All-Stars (the others being Matt Cain and Buster Posey) to attend the workout, although Bochy said that Sandoval worked out at the park on his own earlier in the day.
The Giants ended the season's first half by dropping five of six games to the Nationals and Pirates, both current division leaders who could be potential playoff opponents if the Giants make it that far. The Nationals and Pirates combined to average 7.5 runs over the six-game stretch, and Bochy said that the two teams' offensive production is something the Giants will look to emulate.
"We knew going in there that both teams were swinging the bats well, and they have some talented players, guys with power," Bochy said. "If you look at the Nationals, they're throwing threats at you [with] every player that is coming up. The Pirates are clicking, too. They're in first place, both teams, and I'm not surprised by that."
Entering the second half ranking second to last in the Majors with a .225 average with runners in scoring position, as well as a .183 average with runners in scoring position and two outs, the Giants know that they need more timely hitting if they hope to land a postseason berth.
"Definitely we have to get better with runners in scoring position and with two outs," outfielder Angel Pagan said. "We just need to keep grinding out at-bats, keep believing in ourselves, and we'll be fine."
"Our batting average is decent, but what wins ballgames is timely hits," Bochy said. "Good hitters will find a way to have a quality at-bat, make good contact. [The] first half wasn't a good half for us in that category, especially with two outs. We need to improve in that area."
The Giants are also second to last in baseball with 215 extra-base hits, and although Bochy said "it would be nice" if the Giants' power hitting picks up, Pagan said the lineup's focus will remain on generating runs through timely hitting and exploiting its speed on the bases.
"Home runs don't win ballgames -- runs do," Pagan said. "Scoring as many runs as you can, that's how you win ballgames. We've got the power and the speed, so I think that's the perfect combination for us to score some runs.
"You saw teams back in the day like Atlanta in the '90s, they weren't power hitters. They just scored runs and had the great pitching staff, like we do. That's what we have to focus on, because if you pull off three or four [runs], the game is over."
Jay Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.