Giants' Bats ‘aren't Clicking' as Team Loses Ground in Playoff Race

SAN FRANCISCO -- There is the section in the game notes handed out by the Giants that summarizes the head-to-head record with each opponent. The blurb about the Nationals includes this line: "The Giants are not slated to face Patrick Corbin, Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer in this three-game series."

Yes, the Giants caught a break as they returned home for a big week against the Nationals and Phillies. They were lined up against Erick Fedde, Anibal Sanchez and Joe Ross. 

So far, they have not taken advantage of it. 

A night after Fedde dominated, the lineup did little against Sanche -- a veteran having a solid year -- and the Nationals before a couple of big late hits from bench bat Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't enough, as a 5-3 loss was the eighth in the last 12 games. The Giants are back behind six teams in the NL Wild Card race and sit two games under .500. 

The formula lately has been a familiar one: The Giants aren't hitting. Again. They've scored more than three runs just four times in the past 12 games and entered with a .698 OPS over their previous 11. That scorching July is a distant memory right now.

"It was going to be hard to keep that pace and I do think at times we're having some tough luck," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're just not clicking, that's fair to say, too. That's why I put (Stephen) Vogt in left field. You just keep going. You're going to have ruts." 

Bochy added that the Giants will need to pitch well and win close games, but that's putting an awful lot of pressure on a young staff. On Tuesday, rookie lefty Conner Menez gave up a pair of homers and five runs in his second career start. 

The solution isn't coming from Triple-A at this point. The Giants need more from their core, and that's what makes this recent skid so concerning. This is wildly similar to the first two months -- down to the fact that Sandoval is providing most of the punch off the bench. 

Bochy said Sandoval, Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt will split time at first and third for now, and Donovan Solano is expected to play more. The production will have to come from within, as the big move already was made. A few hours before they took the field, the Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment. Bochy didn't think that impacted his team. 

[RELATED: Dickerson denied nickname on Players' Weekend jersey]

"The focus was good," he said. "It was on the game. That's a tough day for a lot of us who spent lots of time with Joe. We just got behind and had an uphill climb there."

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