S.F. Giants looking for a spark in offense 

click to enlarge Speed thrills: The Giants hope the additions of Angel Pagan, above, and Melky Cabrera will jump start an offense that last year scored only 3½ runs per game. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • us presswire file photo
  • Speed thrills: The Giants hope the additions of Angel Pagan, above, and Melky Cabrera will jump start an offense that last year scored only 3½ runs per game.

You can’t win in baseball scoring 3.5 runs per game.

That’s why the Giants made speed a point of emphasis heading into this season.

With the newly acquired Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera at the top of the batting order, the Giants will have more sizzle, which they hope translates into more scoring.

If the Giants can at least improve to the point of being a “normal” offensive team and, say, score 4 runs per game — the National League average last year was 4.1 — “It would be huge,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We know it. We talked about it. We want to get a little more athletic and add some speed to the club.

Pagan, Cabrera hopefully will increase our runs per game. And that will put a little more pressure on opposing clubs.”

It’s a tribute to the Giants’ pitching staff that they somehow had a winning record (86-76) while being outscored 578-570 last season.

In fact, the Giants’ 570 runs represented the second-fewest in Major League Baseball last season.

With more speed, and presumably more runs to work with, those pitchers should roll up more wins.

“I think it’s been a nice change to see those guys at the front of the lineup,” Matt Cain said, pointing to Pagan, Cabrera and speedy reserve Gregor Blanco.

“It’s something we haven’t been lucky enough to have in past years. It’s going to be a nice asset for us to have those guys at the front of the lineup causing some havoc.”

Players view the additions in much the same way fans do.

In the dugout, Cain said, “We’re thinking, ‘I can’t wait to see this guy steal or get to full speed.’”

In the leadoff spot will be Pagan, who hit .262 last year for the New York Mets while going 32-for-39 in stolen base attempts.

“We have to play the little game ... and put some points on the board early,” Pagan said. “I’m looking to provide a spark at the top of the lineup, get on base a lot, put pressure on the bases, and get the job done in scoring runs.

“That will be the difference in being a successful team.”

Of course, it helps if the new additions can score without using their wheels.

On Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz., against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cabrera belted solo homers from both sides of the plate.

Said Bochy, “I don’t care if it’s spring training. That’s impressive. Few guys can or have done that. A great job on his part.”

Cabrera followed that up Wednesday by going 3-for-3.

The manager pointed out Cabrera is coming off his best year, for the Kansas City Royals, where he had 656 at-bats and hit .305 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs.

“He’s got that confidence going for him. He’s a good player. You don’t have the kind of year he had last year and not be a good player.”

Cabrera struggled the previous year in Atlanta. “But that’s OK. But I’m focused now for this team. It’s now 2012. I’m ready to play every day.”

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Mike Tulumello

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