SAN FRANCISCO -- A reduction in strikeouts has meant increased scoring for the Giants.San Francisco entered Sunday's series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on pace to score 705 runs, exceeding last year's total of 570. Making more consistent contact partially explains the Giants' improvement. They began Sunday with the second-fewest strikeouts in the National League -- 945, bettered only by Philadelphia's 921. Hensley Meulens, who has worked with co-hitting coach Joe Lefebvre on sharpening the Giants' approach at the plate, compared the current team favorably to the 2010 squad that captured the World Series. "We're having better at-bats this year than we did during the regular season when we won," Meulens said. Giants hitters have concentrated more on connecting with the top half of pitches -- "Hitting the ball on a line drive down," Meulens called it -- resulting in topspin that helps batted balls fall safely. "That's instead of trying to hit the ball up, and you get 350-foot fly balls," Meulens said. The Giants remain subpar in scoring at home, where their 3.54 per-game average is the third-lowest figure in the Major Leagues. But they averaged 4.86 runs in their last 14 games at AT&T Park before Sunday, reflecting their progress.
Nady swinging, nearing return to action
SAN FRANCISCO -- Xavier Nady took swings in the batting cages before Sunday's game against the Dodgers and is expected to return within the next few days, manager Bruce Bochy said.
Nady has been sidelined since straining his left hamstring while playing left field against the D-backs last Wednesday, and was set to be evaluated by the Giants' training staff before Sunday's game. Bochy said Nady could return as soon as Sunday as a pinch-hitter, if he recieved clearance to play.
Before the injury, Nady had been platooning in left field with Gregor Blanco, who got the start there on Sunday.
"Talking to him yesterday, he told me he's doing well," Bochy said before Sunday's game. "He wanted to hit today and it looks like he's really, really coming around, so that's good news."
Lincecum knows what Strasburg's going through
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum can relate to Stephen Strasburg's sudden inactivity, though their backgrounds are entirely different.In Lincecum's 2007 rookie year, the Giants shut him down in mid-September after his innings total climbed to 177 1/3. That figure included five early-season starts at Triple-A. Lincecum was 23 at the time. Of course, Lincecum never underwent Tommy John elbow surgery as did Strasburg, 24. Nor were the Giants bound for the postseason -- as Strasburg's Washington Nationals seemingly are, which accounts for much of the fuss regarding the right-hander's removal from the rotation. Strasburg's medical history prompted the Nationals to excuse him from further competition after he accumulated 159 1/3 innings, up from 24 innings in 2011. "They shut me down because they thought the stress of the longer season on me might affect me the year after," Lincecum said Sunday. "Obviously, they played it right." Obviously. Lincecum finished 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA and a league-high 265 strikeouts in 2008 to win his first of two National League Cy Young Awards.