Belt benefits from lineup drop, return to basics

Belt benefits from lineup drop, return to basics

SAN FRANCISCO -- The way Brandon Belt saw it, a lot of the blame for the Giants' struggles to open the second half of the season could rest on his shoulders. Belt hit 2-for-33 with 17 strikeouts during their recent eight-game road trip and got away from what helped him get voted into his first All-Star Game.

"I was too anxious," Belt said. "Swinging before I saw what kind of pitch it was and where it was going."

Belt got back to seeing the ball first while batting sixth in the lineup Monday night, and it resulted in his first multi-hit performance since the break. Belt finished the game 3-for-4 with a two-run home run.

In Belt's case, a "little change" helped, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy may keep him at that spot in the lineup if the trend continues.

"I'll see if he goes back to that spot [batting third]," Bochy said before Tuesday's game. "I'm probably superstitious in a way; I don't want to move him today. For some reason, the three-hole's been a black hole for us."

Mac Williamson seems like the perfect candidate to assume that spot in the order. Williamson didn't play Monday because Bochy felt the matchups favored more left-handed batters. But, based on Williamson's performance as of late, which included three home runs and seven RBIs in his last nine games entering Tuesday, the outfielder could provide a desperately needed spark hitting third.

"Mac's earned more and more playing time," said Bochy. "It's been fun to watch his progress."

Williamson's success at the plate has come at a time when the Giants' offense has fallen silent. They entered Tuesday hitting .128 with runners in scoring position in their last nine games, just 2 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bochy said he's not looking in the rearview mirror, though. He just needs the combination of timely hitting and quality pitching to return.

• Reliever Cory Gearrin, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 6 with a right shoulder strain, threw a bullpen session Tuesday. If all goes well, Bochy said he would start his rehab assignment soon.

• Utility man Ehire Adrianza continues to excel during his rehab assignment. He entered Tuesday batting .366 with six home runs in 11 games (nine with Class A Advanced San Jose, two with Triple-A Sacramento). Bochy would like to get him more at-bats at the Triple-A level, but the Giants will have to activate him or designate him for assignment by next week. Adrianza has been on the 60-day disabled list (fractured foot) since April 15.

• Third baseman Matt Duffy (left Achilles strain) ran curves the last couple of days and will begin running the bases soon. Bochy appeared optimistic about his progress, saying for the second straight day that Duffy could begin his rehab assignment this weekend.

Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.