San Francisco Giants: Lineup Is Finally Firing on All Cylinders

Scott Burns@Follow @ScottInTheBayCorrespondent IIIJune 15, 2012

Sandoval's return has jumpstarted the Giants' lineup.
Sandoval's return has jumpstarted the Giants' lineup.Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants have finally found a lineup. They are crushing the ball lately behind the likes of Melky Cabrera, Brandon Belt and Gregor Blanco. Even Madison Bumgarner went deep for the first time in his career.

The pitching staff is 80 percent set with the perfect Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito. Former staff ace Tim Lincecum is in the midst of a transition year and everyone is hoping he figures it out sooner than later.

The big story of this recent homestand outside of possibly the best pitched game of all time is how the lineup has finally kicked into gear. The long-awaited return of Pablo Sandoval was that final piece that was missing.

Sandoval’s return has put him back at third base and made injury-replacement Joaquin Arias the new utility man. Arias now rotates between second and a late-game defensive replacement at third base. He is the preferred man when either Theriot or Sandoval take the day off.

The biggest problems have been with the ineptitude of the entire infield minus the third base position.  Second base, shortstop and first base were all key problems in the first two months of the season. 

Belt's home run streak has opened the eyes of Bochy.
Belt's home run streak has opened the eyes of Bochy.Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Second base was a disaster area until the start of June. In the middle of May, the batting average from that position was .186, but since Theriot returned from the disabled list, that average has increased to .229. Theriot is currently hitting .260 for the season.

The shortstop position was officially handed over to Brandon Crawford at the start of camp. He started very slow both at the plate and in the field, but he has since turned things around. He is currently batting .257 in the month of June, a big improvement from the .203 he was hitting back in April. Crawford is adjusting to the eighth position and just needs to cut down on his strikeouts.

First base is normally the power-hitting position on the team. The Giants, up until recently, have had no power at all this season, especially when playing in their own ballpark. They have also been rotating several players in the first base position without any consistency.

Brandon Belt, after a few tweaks in his batting stance and swing, looks to have finally taken a hold of the first base position.  He finally flexed his muscles by hitting home runs in three consecutive games, including the first “Splash Hit” of the year yesterday. He just needs to become more comfortable with his new stance and get locked in. If the results are more home runs, base hits and RBI, he will be manning first base for a long time.

There is no question with the outfield. Melky is leading an All-Star campaign in left field, Angel Pagan is a huge upgrade from former center fielder Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco has been a total surprise in right field.

Buster Posey is staying hot and is now currently leading the NL in All-Star votes for catchers. He is leading the team with seven home runs and is hitting close to .300. Hector Sanchez has taken over the role as backup and full-time Zito catcher. He is no slouch at the plate either and will probably take over for Posey in the long run.

For the time being, there isn’t much Bochy needs to worry about other than getting his bench players some at-bats to keep fresh. Aubrey Huff (now on the DL) is a full-time pinch hitter while he plays out the remaining days of his contract. Manny Burriss is on the bench for his speed and a fill-in role on occasion.

Bochy can now focus on the few remaining holes in the pitching staff, primarily Tim Lincecum and the middle relief. But with the way the starters have been throwing lately, there isn’t too much to worry about at all.

Follow me @ScottInTheBay