Notes: When did Giants pitchers forget how to hit?

Notes: When did Giants pitchers forget how to hit?
September 13, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Matt Cain has three hits and hasn't scored a run this season. In 2012, he had 13 hits and scored six runs. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

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LOS ANGELES – It’s been a frustrating season for the Giants rotation, which ranks 13th among the 15 NL clubs with a 4.40 ERA.

And while they aren’t paid for their hitting prowess, it’s been just as frustrating a year for them with the bats.

[RELATED: Crawford, Belt won't face Kershaw]

Giants pitchers are hitting .089, the lowest among all NL staffs. They haven’t hit a home run and have combined for just two extra-base hits all season – Tim Lincecum’s triple and the double Mike Kickham hit in his second big league start.

Is it a big deal? Is it one of the chief reasons the Giants are in last place in the NL West? Of course not.

But professionals try to get better in all aspects of their game. Professionals have pride. And you’d better believe it stings the pride of a Matt Cain or a Madison Bumgarner, two strong and sturdy fellers, to not have an extra-base hit between them.

“We definitely haven’t hit like we usually do,” said Cain, whose slash line (average, OBP, slugging) is .064/.102/.064. “I don’t know why. It’s a good question.

“We should do a hitting camp in the offseason – the whole staff. Get Tom Emanski out there with us.”

Sign up hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens. He’s game. Especially if they hold the camp in Curacao.

“I’ll go,” said Meulens, fully aware that Cain’s suggestion was in jest. “If it’s to get them better, I’ll go. 

This isn’t just Chad Gaudin (2 for 65 in his career) dragging down the staff batting average. Lincecum is hitting .077 with 33 strikeouts in 52 at-bats. Ryan Vogelsong, a college shortstop, also has a .077 average and missed three months when he broke his pinkie while swinging at a pitch that hit him. Madison Bumgarner, who once hit a walk-off homer to win a high school state title in North Carolina, is at .118 with six hits, all singles.

The leader in the clubhouse is none other than Barry Zito, with a .152 average. He carried over some of his rousing success with the bat in the playoffs last season.

“Oh, I knew that,” said Lincecum, not surprised that Zito was the staff’s leading hitter. “He’s got great hand-eye coordination. Just goes to show it’s not how hard you swing the bat.”

Lincecum’s theory on everyone else?

“The priority is always on getting our bunts down,” Lincecum said. “We haven’t had as many bunt situations, so we’re striking out more.”

The Giants do rank fifth in the NL with 42 sacrifice hits among their pitchers.

Regardless, Giants manager Bruce Bochy continues to believe in his pitchers. On Thursday, he let Cain hit for himself in the seventh inning of a tie game, and called the ol’ butcher boy play. Cain pulled back his bunt attempt, swung, struck out – and Gregor Blanco was thrown out trying to steal.

Bochy ordered up the butcher boy with Bumgarner in his last start, too. The big lefty, who bats right-handed, fouled it back.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a fastball in a month,” said Bumgarner, who hit two homers last years. “Gotta learn to hit the sliders, I guess.”

Meulens said the coaching staff would discuss ways to help the pitchers be more competitive at the plate next season, and the current struggles aren’t for a lack of effort or interest. They’re a competitive bunch.

Especially Bumgarner, who has to try to hit the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw Friday night.

“He’s the one guy you know is not satisfied when he doesn’t hit a pitch he feels he should,” Meulens said. “And he’s right about the sliders. You watch him in BP and I wouldn’t throw him a fastball, either.”

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Bochy said hello to Dodgers right-hander Brian Wilson when they crossed paths in the outfield during batting practice.

“I told him I want to make sure he knows I’m glad he’s back pitching,” Bochy said. “It’s been a long road for him.”

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Gaudin threw roughly 25 pitches under simulated game conditions but a decision hasn’t been made on when to activate him from the disabled list. Gaudin will be reevaluated on Saturday, Bochy said.

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To call it a slow news day would be like calling Yasiel Puig somewhat excitable. I figured I had to ask Bochy something, so I went with this: “Is it too early to ask what your DH plans will be for Yankee Stadium?”

He said Buster Posey would DH one game, and Marco Scutaro likely another. And maybe Bronx native Johnny Monell, for his first big league start?

“Johnny, I’ll get in there somewhere,” said Bochy, smiling.

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