7/19/2014 11:15 P.M. ET
Giants showing signs of life on offense
By Maria Torres / MLB.com
MIAMI -- The Giants were tied with the Braves for the second-best record in the National League (53-43) before Saturday's game. That's in spite of the team's well-documented 32-game swoon to close out the first half and in spite of its cumulative power numbers.
San Francisco's bats were doing damage throughout the first two months of the season -- 120 runs scored in March/April and 123 in May. Along with those numbers, the team put up a .717 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in the first month and a .706 OPS in the second.
June saw a massive dropoff in power. All of a sudden, the Giants were scuffling and unable to get as many clutch hits as they were used to, causing them to finish the month with 93 runs and a .677 OPS.
But, if the last few games are anything to go by, it looks like the Giants might finally be waking up from that June slumber. They scored 17 runs combined in the game before the All-Star break and Friday night and in the process returned to their old two-out, clutch-hitting ways with eight RBIs in those situations across both games. They also went a combined 9-for-19 with runners in scoring position.
On Saturday, they added three more two-out RBIs, but this time went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
"This is who we were the first 60-plus games," manager Bruce Bochy said after his team's 9-1 rout Friday, in which Pablo Sandoval hit a high fastball for a three-run homer in the fifth inning. "The first half, it was a tale of two teams. We had some good at-bats today, some two-out hits. And Pablo, I don't know how he hit that pitch."
BP incident could mean concussion for Belt
MIAMI -- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt will be tested for a concussion before Sunday's series finale against the Marlins. He was removed from Saturday's game in the bottom of the third inning due to dizziness.
When he was fielding at first base during batting practice, some miscommunication caused Belt to get hit in the face with a throw. Manager Bruce Bochy said the accident happened as two throws came at him at the same time. Belt had been fine coming off the field and even drove in the Giants' first run of the night with a second-inning double.
But then he started complaining of headaches, dizziness and nausea, so Bochy took him out of the game in hopes that the ailments would fade. Belt, however, was still feeling repercussions from the incident when the game ended, so the Giants elected to have him tested.
He will not be in the lineup Sunday and will likely need a few days of rest.
"We're just hoping he passes these tests," Bochy said. "He'd just miss some time."
Belt doubled down the right-field line in his only at-bat of the night. The drive plated Pablo Sandoval, who had reached second on a bloop hit to third base. Belt then scored when Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltamacchia allowed a passed ball and committed a throwing error.
Since being activated from the disabled list July 4, Belt has gone 6-for-36 with a homer and five RBIs.
He was scratched from the lineup last Sunday due to some spasms in his back, which he said wasn't unusual for someone who'd spent so much time inactive. Belt was on the disabled list with a broken left thumb for 50 games.
Panik settling in, could stick at No. 2 spot
MIAMI -- Before Friday's 9-1 rout of the Marlins, Giants rookie Joe Panik returned to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time since July 7 and looked a lot more comfortable than he has in his short tenure in the big leagues.
Panik went 2-for-5, something manager Bruce Bochy said he should feel good about, even though his career has gotten off to an underwhelming 13-for-56 beginning.
"It seems like he's much more relaxed now," Bochy said. "That's always a good start, especially to start the second half."
Panik has impressed Bochy with his glove as well. The 23-year-old has started at second base for 17 of the Giants' 24 games since he debuted June 21.
Panik was in the two-hole again Saturday -- and that will probably be a trend for a while, now that Hunter Pence is leading off and Brandon Belt has moved to the bottom half of the order.
Belt, who's experienced some discomfort in his back recently, entered Saturday 5-for-35 with a homer and four RBIs since being activated from the disabled list July 4. Bochy will keep Belt down in the order until he gets going again.
Before he missed 50 games with a broken thumb, he hit .264 with nine homers and 18 RBIs in 35 games. He struck out at a rather alarming rate, with 38 whiffs in that period. He'd already struck out 10 times in his 10 games back, including once Friday.
"His timing's right there," Bochy said. "But with that said, I do like the fact that I think Joe is a guy who might move runners a lot than with Belt as far as with hit and run and putting the bunt down."
Belt roped an RBI double in the second inning Saturday and later scored on a passed ball and throwing error by Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He left the game in the third inning due to dizziness and will be tested for a concussion before Sunday's game.
• For the third game in a row, Marco Scutaro was out of the lineup Saturday. A sore neck kept him out of the game Friday and continued to bother him. Bochy said he might get back on the field Sunday.
Scutaro has been active on the Giants' roster for five days. He's made just one appearance for his team, a start against the D-backs last Saturday.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.