Houston Astros 6, San Francisco Giants 3: It’s a Splash Hit for Brandon Belt

BOX SCORE

Sure, we could focus on the negative: Barry Zito’s ever-climbing ERA, failing to sweep the Astros, the Giants’ post-perfect game hangover.

But we’re MoreSplashHits. So when there are more Splash Hits, we celebrate it.

Especially when it comes from Brandon Belt.

On Thursday, Belt hit …

  • the first Splash Hit of 2012,
  • the first since Belt accomplished the feat on Sept. 27 of last year,
  • the 61st Splash Hit in the history of AT&T Park
  • the 26th Splash Hit not hit by somebody named Barry Bonds
  • and he became the 8th Giant with multiple Splash Hits, joining Bonds (35), Pablo Sandoval (6), Felipe Crespo (2), Michael Tucker (2), Ryan Klesko (2), Andres Torres (2) and Aubrey Huff (2).

It also helped the Giants avoid going the latest into the season before the first Splash Hit of the season. That came on June 15, 2009, when Andres Torres belted the first of three Splash Hits the Giants hit in 2009.

More importantly, it was Belt’s third home run in three games after hitting none in his first 48 games in 2012.

Belt came out of the gate in a funk, hitting .167 in his first seven games with seven strikeouts. Belt then found himself coming off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement, as he continued to work with batting coach Hensley Meulens on his approach in the batters box.

The hits started to come for Belt. The strikeouts dropped off. His average rose to .294 on May 3. But those results came at the expense of his power stroke.

Then Belt took another turn, as he continued to find himself on the bench in favor of Brett Pill against left-handed starters. Belt went from May 18 to June 6 with just six hits and only one extra-base hit. He averaged hit its low-point Sunday against Texas at .224.

Then the Astros came to town. Belt, starting twice against left-handed starters, went 4 for 10 with two walks and three homers. All three homers came against lefties — a shot off Wesley Wright that one-hopped into the bay on Tuesday, a guacamole shot to center off J.A. Happ on Wednesday (it hit the avocado tree behind the center-field wall), and then finally his Splash Hit of Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday.

“I know from past experience I can hit righties as well,” Belt said. “That gives you a comfort feeling up there.”

He only hit two of his nine home runs last year at AT&T. Now, all three of his homers have come at home in 2012.

Belt’s opportunity came about in part from Pablo Sandoval’s activation, which led to Pill’s demotion to Fresno. Now, it looks as if the Giants will be without Aubrey Huff for a while (he sprained his knee trying to jump the dugout fence after Matt Cain’s perfect game).

Belt needs to the seize this opportunity, take over that first-base job and never give it back.

Giants fans have been waiting 1.5 years for this.

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