Bochy convinces Belt to make adjustment

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Bochy convinces Belt to make adjustment

MIAMI Although Giants manager Bruce Bochy finallyconvinced Brandon Belt to make some adjustments to his swing, the hailstorm ofstrikeouts probably did more to convince the young first baseman that something needed to change.

The biggest thing is getting myself in a hole and notputting balls in play that should be in play, Belt told me on Friday, when hecarried an 0-for-12, eight-strikeout streak into the game. Thats an approachtype of thing. Its a mental type of thing. At the same time, there might be aneed for a mechanical adjustment.

That day, Bochy took aside Belt and asked him to be moreopen-minded to making some adjustments that hes resisted since the spring. Thecoaching staff has tried to get him to be more upright and open up his stance,thereby freeing up his hips and allowing him to turn on inside pitches.

Bochy said that Belt incorporated those changes and had betterat-bats off the bench Friday, including an RBI single.

I like where hes at right now, Bochy said today. We talked abouta lot of things, hitting approach. Sometimes you make adjustments and thatswhat hes done.

And he likes it. he likes where hes at, too, and thatsprobably more important.

Belts swing-and-miss rate is 28 percent this season. He swungthrough just 18 percent of strikes last year.

Ive gone through it, Belt told me on Friday. The end ofmy last year, I was going through the same thing when it was just tough to putballs in play. Id square a few up here and there, and Im not even doing thatright now.

Im looking at video. I see some adjustments to make. Butits more of just knowing myself. Most of it has been a timing issue or amental approach. Ive just got to figure out what to change and do it.

Personally, how is Belt dealing with these struggles?

You know, Im fine, the 24-year-old said. Im a lotbetter than I was last year. It was harder to take back then.

I know this is the worst of the worst. Thats pretty muchas bad as I can get. When I get the right approach and the right mindset, Illget better.

Belt said he has to get back to reacting to pitches insteadof guessing. Opening his stance should help him recognize pitches better, Bochysaid.

You get to a point when youre caught in between, Belt toldme. Youre not really taking a professional approach up there. Youre eitherdeciding to swing or not to swing instead of seeing the ball and hitting itlike youre supposed to.

Belt said he needed to keep his head more still, which hecan do when he keeps his weight back longer.

I havent been doing that, Belt said. I dont know ifits being too anxious or what. I just know I havent had my swing all year, not since thespring. Well make some changes and Ill try to find it.

Bochy said it was a tough call to start Aubrey Huff overBelt on Sunday. He wanted Belt to take another day, knowing how hard it is towork on making adjustments in the cage while also needing to be results-orientedwhen the game starts. Bochy also said he liked the way Huff is working deepercounts; he nearly hit a home run on Friday.

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

Giants put it together in all phases, get back in win column

SAN FRANCISCO — In the bottom of the eighth inning Monday, with the Giants finally running away with one, Johnny Cueto started blowing into a giant wad of bubble gum. He held two hands out, ready to catch remnants of an explosion as Brandon Crawford and Kelby Tomlinson looked on and smiled. 

A few minutes later, players started migrating to the dugout rail as they have done in each of the three starts Ryder Jones has made. They are ready to cheer on a rookie’s first big league hit, even if the wait has been an excruciating one for the third baseman. 

Bruce Bochy likes to say that your personality is better when you’re winning, and his players certainly showed that Monday in snapshots here and there. They woke up to a report that there were fractured in the clubhouse, caused in large part by the new closer. They denied it, they met as a group, and then, finally, they won. 

Jeff Samardzija pitched as he has for two months, the top of the lineup came through over and over again, and Brandon Crawford paced a golden night with the gloves. A 9-2 win over the Rockies was just the second since June 11 and it snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Rockies. Any win is meaningful at this point, but this one seemed to mean just a little bit more given the drama of the day. 

“Despite what people might think, we still have a pretty good group here and we get along just fine,” Crawford said. “We’re all rooting for each other.”

It’s one thing to support teammates off the field, and there’s been no indication that the Giants aren’t doing that. It’s quite another to be hand-in-hand between the lines, and for much of this season, Samardzija has been on an island. 

The right-hander has been Bochy’s best pitcher since Madison Bumgarner went down in the hills outside Denver. But he entered Monday with a 2-9 record and 4.74 ERA inflated by faulty defense. He hasn’t grumbled, but he has grown accustomed to the worst, and when Nolan Arenado bounced a ball deep to the hole in shortstop with two on and two outs in the third, Samardzija figured the game was probably tied. 

“I’m thinking maybe they charge it in the outfield and maybe make a play at home,” Samardzija said. “But with a guy like that at shortstop, things change so fast.”

Crawford scooped the ball on the edge of the grass. He would have liked nothing more than to make an otherworldly throw to first to nail his World Baseball Classic teammate, but he knew the best chance was at third. A couple of days ago, Crawford and Jones discussed how the rookie should cover third on such a play. Jones played it perfectly, retreating in time to catch Crawford’s inning-ending throw. 

“The best thing (about Crawford) is he doesn’t even talk about it,” Samardzija said.

No, Crawford put the spotlight on Jones.

“That’s a pretty heads-up play,” he said. “We talked about it and he was there. It was a funny coincidence.”

The play held the lead, and the Giants kept pushing. The top four hitters in the lineup finished with 10 hits, six RBI and six runs. Brandon Belt had an RBI triple in the five-spot. Crawford drove in a run behind him. Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson added insurance from the bottom. Bochy watched it all from the top step and saw a group collectively relax.

“Just quit fighting it so much,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent in this offense. There’s no reason they can’t put consistent runs on the board. Tonight I just thought the at-bats were so much better and the focus was. Once it started rolling, guys felt better about themselves, and it just got contagious.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' skid-snapping win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — On a day that started with controversy, Giants players called a meeting following batting practice. Perhaps they were talking about when and where to stretch. Perhaps a reminder was given to keep clubhouse complaints in the actual clubhouse. 

Or, perhaps, the players just decided that enough was enough. 

In a rare display, the Giants put a clean and complete game together. They beat the Rockies 9-2 at AT&T Park, getting just their second win since June 11 and snapping a nine-game losing streak to the Rockies. 

Jeff Samardzija continued his hot streak, the lineup was opportunistic and flashed some power, and the defense sparkled at times. Here are five things to know from the throwback night … 

—- Samardzija walked off to a standing ovation after throwing 112 pitches. He was charged with two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Ignore the record and ERA for a second — his FIP is 3.37 and his xFIP is 2.95. He really is having a very good and underrated season. 

—- Here’s another one for your Samardzija file: Over the past two months, he has 82 strikeouts and three walks. 

—- It was a good day in the race for another Brandon Crawford Gold Glove. Adeiny Hechavarria, one of the few in the National League who even approaches Crawford, was traded to the Rays. Crawford added to the reel by gunning a runner down on third and making a nifty spin-and-throw in the fourth to rob Ian Desmond of a hit. 

—- There are nights where Denard Span looks like a game-changer, and this was one of them. He had a single, walk and triple in his first three plate appearances, scoring twice as the Giants built a 5-0 lead. He was spry in center, too 

—- Nolan Arenado was 0 for 4. Apparently that’s legal now. (It was actually his ninth 0 for 4 or worse against the Giants, in 81 games.)

—- Bonus sixth fact since the Giants won a game: Sam Dyson, acquired basically for free, is the new setup man. That didn’t take long, and it probably won’t be changing anytime soon. Dyson gave up a single but struck out the other three batters he faced.