SAN FRANCISCO -- More than most sports, baseball is a numbers game, and Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa's numbers were brutal entering Monday night's game against Washington.
Ishikawa was batting .188 and hadn't had a hit since May 1. He had gone 17 at-bats without a hit, an eternity in the big leagues. Not many players last for long in the Majors hitting under .200, and Ishikawa needed a breakout game in the worst way -- especially with first baseman Jesus Guzman going wild at Triple-A Fresno, hitting .347 with six home runs after a 5-for-6 night Monday against Reno.
A breakout game is exactly what Ishikawa got. He went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and scored a run. In one night, he raised his average 31 points to .219. He also made a tremendous defensive play, catching Wil Nieves' popup in foul territory in the second inning and holding on despite taking a header over the railing and into seats just beyond the Nationals' dugout.
"It always feels great to get hits," Ishikawa said. "It always feels even better when the team wins the game. That's the most important thing, that I was able to contribute to help us winning."
Ishikawa said he actually sensed a breakout coming during the Giants' previous series, at Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
"I was struggling a lot the last few weeks," he said. "It just got to the point where I had gotten away from what I was doing last year, and that was just putting my faith in God, trusting Him. Early in the season I started trying to make too many changes in both my swing and my mental approach. I took all the burden, all that frustration upon my own shoulders."
Ishikawa said that he has been more "at peace" and less frustrated since getting back to the approach that proved so successful last season when he hit .274 with the Giants and had a strong finish.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he noticed a change in Ishikawa's approach at the plate Monday night.
"Probably as much as anything, he was a little more aggressive," Bochy said before Tuesday's game, in which Ishikawa singled in his first two at-bats. "He would let the bat go. That's what you want him to do when he gets a good pitch to hit. Sometimes you get caught when you're looking for that perfect pitch.
"You want to be patient up there, but you have to be aggressive at the same time. I think he was getting a little too patient. Yesterday he had a different approach and he attacked the ball better."
Ishikawa certainly attacked that Nieves popup in the second, battling a nasty wind and, in the end, the railing and the ground where he crash-landed in the sunken box, head first.
"I remember seeing the ball and going up to catch it, and the next thing I know I'm upside down," he said. "... I really don't remember where I landed or how I landed. My lower back, I can feel it a little bit. It's fine. It's just a little tight."
Eric Gilmore is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.