Bochy challenges offense to step up

Bochy challenges offense to step up

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy mentioned no names as he issued some pointed remarks about the club's underperforming offense, which again looked limp in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.

Bochy didn't have to single out anybody. San Francisco's slump has remained collective all season.

The Giants had a valid explanation for their latest setback, which completed Washington's three-game sweep. They were overwhelmed by Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, who pitched for the only team that might have been able to beat him. Scherzer hurled a complete-game five-hitter and probably would have had a shutout if the twilight hadn't obscured Buster Posey's two-out popup in the fourth inning, which fell for an RBI double between left fielder Jayson Werth and center fielder Michael Taylor.

But the Giants can't attribute their woes to remarkable pitching by their opponents every night. At some point, the hitters must take the initiative.

"We've got to get this offense going," Bochy said. "It's not going to happen until our core group gets their numbers where they're supposed to be. We still believe that's going to happen, but the only way this offense will get going is when we get some guys to get where they normally are this time of year."

For instance, Brandon Belt, who entered the year as a .272 career hitter, is batting .237. Joe Panik (.242 this season, .280 career through 2016) isn't quite himself. Brandon Crawford and Denard Span have subpar statistics across the board, by their standards. Hunter Pence is finishing a Minor League injury rehabilitation stint. Posey's batting .348 but has 13 RBIs.

Told of Bochy's remarks, Belt said, "No doubt. We gotta pick this thing up offensively. The pitchers have busted their butts. We have to figure out a way to turn around this thing a little bit. With the hitters we have on our team, I think that's really possible."

Any improvement would be sudden, because the Giants showed few signs of a resurgence through the season's first two months. They batted .230 in April while averaging 3.07 runs per game and totaling 16 home runs. In May, they hiked their home run total to 26 and marginally increased their scoring average to 3.24 runs per game. But they batted just .226.

How long can Bochy's pleas go unanswered?

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.