SAN FRANCISCO You know Angel Pagan has been the hottest hitter on the Giants in August. And you know Buster Posey has been sizzling ever since the All-Star break.But do you know who is hitting .352 over his last 28 games, and .371 over his last 19?Think for a minute.(Music plays.)Its Brandon Belt. The Giants first baseman has quietly lifted his average from.229 on July 24 up to a respectable .265. And his on-base percentage is up to .362, which is second only to Posey (.403) among Giants hitters who arent suspended.With all the talk of how the Giants would replace Melky Cabrera, there wasnt much mention of the resurgence of Belt. Thats partly because hes done it without hitting homers he hasnt hit one since June 23, and he has just four all year but Belt doesnt care. He said he decided to not worry about his numbers and just worry about helping the team win.I got in this low spot, he said. I wasnt doing anything to help the team. I was probably hurting the team, and it really bugged me. I said, No matter how I feel, Im going to go out and battle and see what happens. I think thats make me play better personally.In his second at-bat on Saturday, Belt did exactly what the Giants needed, even though it lowered his batting average. With runners on second and third and no outs, he hit a ground ball to second. It was the perfect out, because it drove in a run and moved another runner to third. In his next trip, Belt drilled a double over the head of center fielder Michael Bourn.I think its a changing mindset, Belt said. Im just going out there and battling whether I feel good or bad, just do anything I can to try to help us win. Its getting down to crunch time and we have to win as much possible.---The Giants optioned right-hander Eric Hacker to Triple-A after Saturdays game, with a corresponding roster move to be announced before Sundays game. Hacker appeared in three games since he was recalled Aug. 17, and he gave up runs inall three.Guillermo Mota will not be the guy who takes his spot on Sunday. That is the final day of his 100-game suspension. Mota will have to be activated or designated for assignment on Tuesday, after the Giants off day on Monday.--Speaking of Mota, Bruce Bochy said before the game that the decision on whether he comes back will be mostly baseball related, but its a fair question how much of his outside circumstances should be taken into account.Will fans forgive a two-time violator of baseballs drug policy? Does it matter if fans forgive him or not? Are the Giants better off not even reopening the discussion by putting him back on the mound?All good questions.From here it seems the Giants ought to do whatever wins them the most games, and thats probably what fans want too.--Jeremy Affeldt is scuffling. In his last seven games, hes allowed four runs on eight hits and six walks in 4 23 innings. He issued back-to-back bases-loadedwalks in the eighth inning on Saturday, turning a 4-3 game into a 6-3 game.Hes battling himself a little bit, Bochy said. He was so close to gettingout of that inning. Got two strikes and was so close to getting out of that. Once he walked the guy he was frustrated and then he walked another guy. Hes a big part of the pen and they all have their moments, which hes having now, but it wasnt too long ago he was pitching as well as anybody, and well get himback on track.--Francisco Pegueros major league debut was ok, Bochy said, hardly a ringing endorsement.Peguero did make a nice catch running back toward the fence in the first inning, saving a couple runs, but his two at-bats didnt go well. In the third inning he grounded out weakly. In the fifth, all he had to do was put a ball in play to drive in a run, and he struck out.---Pegueros big league debut prompted discussion of Bochys first taste of the majors, more than 34 years ago. Bochy was playing in Double-A when he got promoted to the majors. He said he got to New York, only to realize the Astros were playing that day in Houston.Someone is playing a joke on me, Bochy recalled thinking, before he realized that the team was arriving in New York the following day.Bochy also didnt come to the majors with a big league wardrobe, having been on a Double-A road trip at the time of his promotion.I think I broke even when I got called up because I had to buy so many clothes, Bochy said.A little baseball-reference search reveals a few fun facts about Bochys debut. He was in the lineup with another future manager (Art Howe) and a future general manager (Bob Watson). It was also the first of three consecutive doubleheaders the Astros played in New York and Philadelphia. No wonder they needed reinforcements from Double A.
CHICAGO -- Chris Heston was hopeful a move to a new organization could give his career a jolt. It hasn't worked out that way.
The former Giant was designated for assignment on Wednesday by the Mariners, who earlier acquired an outfielder from the Astros and needed the roster spot. Heston was traded to Seattle at the winter meetings for a player to be named later. The Giants have not yet picked that player off a list the teams agreed to.
Heston had a 3.95 ERA as a starter for the Giants in 2015 and threw a no-hitter at Citi Field, but he had trouble transitioning to relief the next season and dealt with an injury in Triple-A. Needing a roster spot in December, the Giants traded him.
Heston started Sunday for Seattle and gave up six earned runs in three innings. He allowed five earned in two innings in his previous appearance.
CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks.
"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."
Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160.
--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes.
"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.
Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.
--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves.
"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."
--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing.
--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.