April 2013

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 4: Brandon Belt says ‘I got your No. 8 hole’

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt, right, shakes hands with teammate Angel Pagan (16) after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a baseball game, on Monday, April 29, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt, right, shakes hands with teammate Angel Pagan (16) after hitting a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a baseball game, on Monday, April 29, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

When I flipped on the game Monday, I was surprised to see Gregor Blanco in the No. 6 spot of the lineup. I thought “huh, Gregor sixth, Brandon Belt seventh.”

Then Brandon Crawford came up, and I thought “Is something wrong with Belt?”

Nope. Nothing wrong. Belt was just batting eighth. Why? Well, it had to do with his history against Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy. Belt was 2 for 15, which to me seemed like a pretty small sample over the course of two-plus seasons.

But the bigger stat that factored in for Bochy was the nine strikeouts. So Bochy put Belt at No. 8. Maybe he was playing the numbers, which is a little curious because the numbers says Belt was one of the hotter Giants over the past week.

But maybe he was simply trying to get a message to Belt to focus more on his approach against Kennedy … against every single pitcher he faces.

If it’s the latter, it worked.

Belt took a couple of pitches from Kennedy in his first at-bat, then turned on an inside fastball and sent it over the fence in right field for a home run. Belt finished 1 for 3 against Kennedy, flying out to deep right and center in his other two at-bats.

“Try not to panic,” he said, smiling. “But actually, coming into the game, I had a solid approach. I saw him a few times and had an idea what he was trying to do. I wanted to lay off all the pitches up and away he’s gotten me on.”

In the eighth, Belt came up with two outs and the bases loaded. He worked the count to 3-1 against Brad Ziegler.

He said the thought about taking another pitch in hopes of drawing the walk that would give the Giants the lead. Instead, he saw a pitch he liked and slapped it up the middle for a two-run single.

“You’ve just got to adjust and I’m doing a better job adjusting now,” he said. “I’ve got to be ready to adjust again the next time.”

Is that Belt talking? Or is it Bochy? Who cares, because right now it’s working.

OTHER NOTES

  • CAIN AND THE LONG BALL: The Giants got their first win in a game started by Matt Cain this season, although Cain didn’t get the win after surrendering three home runs in the fourth inning. It makes nine home runs Cain has allowed this season. But if there’s a trend, it’s that eight of those have come on the road … in hitter-friendly parks. His next two starts are at home, then May 16 … at Colorado … COLORADO. Hopefully, Cain will figure out how to keep the ball in the park by then.
  • PANDA IN PAIN: Pablo Sandoval left Monday’s game in the sixth inning with pain in his troublesome elbow. It’s the same elbow that sidelined him more than a week during spring training and almost put his season-opener in doubt. Sandoval insists the move was purely precautionary and he wants to play Tuesday. Bochy was leaning more toward giving the Panda the day off.
  • SWINGING SCUTARO: If you watched Monday’s game, you saw a rarity. Marco Scutaro, who almost always takes a first strike, swung at the first strike four times. The result was a 3-for-4 game with a double, a walk and two runs scored. It was almost as if Scutaro was using his own scouting report against the pitchers. Pitchers know Scutaro takes a strike, so they come early with fastballs. Knowing that, Scutaro pounced. Scutaro, who has been battling back stiffness early this season, was looking to break out of any early-season funk. His three hits Monday jumped his average from .222 to .237.
  • KRUKOW’S NUTTY COMMENT: The quote of the day from Monday’s broadcast came during the Giants’ eighth-inning rally. Crawford fouled off a pitch that took one hop behind the plate and nutted home-plate umpire Dale Scott. Scott took a couple of minutes to compose himself before returning to his work. Duane Kuiper said: “He’s a gamer.” That led Mike Krukow to respond: “I’d be doing snow angels in the dirt.”

San Francisco Giants Week 5 preview: at Diamondbacks, vs. Dodgers

The Giants went 1-5 last week, leaving them 13-12 for the season, 3rd in the NL West , 2 games behind the Rockies and Diamondbacks.

  • Monday: Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4. WP: Romo (1-1); HR: Posey (2).
  • Tuesday: Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4 (11). LP: Casilla (2-2); HR: Belt (1).
  • Wednesday: Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2. LP: Gaudin (0-1); Crawford (4).
  • Friday: Padres 2, Giants 1. LP: Lincecum (2-1).
  • Saturday: Padres 8, Giants 7 (12). LP: Romo (1-2). HR: Crawford (5).
  • Sunday: Padres 6, Giants 4. LP: Vogelsong (1-2). HR: Posey (3).

Normally, coming into the week on a five-game losing streak, we’d be glad to have Matt Cain on the mound. He’s the stopper. But the Giants haven’t won a game in which Cain has started since Game 4 of the World Series. That makes five straight losses in Cain starts for the Giants, even though Cain is only 0-2 himself. And what has been biting Cain? The long ball. So having him start at Arizona’s Chase Field won’t make any fans feel any better. The Giants placed reliever Jose Mijares on the bereavement list after the death of his grandmother. Sandy Rosario was called up from Fresno, but may not be with the big club long as Jeremy Affledt is due off the DL some time this week.

GIANTS AT DIAMONDBACKS (15-10)

  • Monday: Giants (Cain 0-2) at Diamondbacks (Kennedy 1-2), 6:40 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Giants (Bumgarner 3-0) at Diamondbacks (Cahill 1-3), 6:40 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Giants (Lincecum 2-1) at Diamondbacks (McCarthy 0-3), 6:40 p.m

The Giants lost two of three to Arizona last week, and the key to the losses for the Giants was failing to produce offense early in the game. The first two games included comebacks from deficits of 4-2 and 4-0 after the seventh inning. … The Giants went 4-5 at Chase snakesField last season, but won 4 of their last 5 games there after dropping the first four. … Each team will send only one pitcher in this series who pitched in last week’s series in San Francisco. Both fared well and pitched in the same game. Arizona’s Ian Kennedy went 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. Bumgarner went 7.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits with 7 strikeouts. … By missing Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley, the Giants miss Arizona’s two best pitchers by ERA. They meet Brandon McCarthy, who has struggled to a 7.48 ERA. Trevor Cahill is 1-3, but sports a nice 3.00 ERA. … It might not make you feel better about Cain pitching, but he’s 8-4 with a 4.13 ERA at Chase Field. … Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt is a Giant killer (7 HR, 23 RBI, .310 in 30 games). He’s particularly good against Giants pitchers who names rhyme with Wincecum (5 HR, 10 RBI, .588).

DODGERS (12-12) at GIANTS

  • Friday: Dodgers (Kershaw 3-2) at Giants (Zito 3-1), 7:10 p.m.
  • Saturday: Dodgers (Lilly 0-0) at Giants (Vogelsong 1-3), 6:05 p.m. MLB Network
  • Sunday: Dodgers (Ryu 2-1) at Giants (Cain 0-2), 5 p.m. ESPN

The Giants took 2 of 3 in Los Angeles to open the season. … The Dodgers are expected to get SS Hanley Ramirez back in the lineup this week after suffering a hand injury during the World Baseball Classic. … The projected starters for the Dodgers is based on the notion that they’ll use their off day Thursday to skip their No. 5 starter. If they don’t, rookie Matt Magill will get the Friday start. But with Chris logoLADCapuano due back from the DL early next week, they’ll likely just skip the No. 5 spot. … If that’s true, the Giants will face Clayton Kershaw on Friday. Kershaw has enjoyed more success against the Giants than any other team. He’s 9-4 with a 1.28 ERA in 17 starts against the Giants. … It’s a good thing that Barry Zito is slated to face Kershaw on Friday. Zito has not allowed a run at home in three starts this season. He’s averaged 7 innings in all three home starts, yet has only throw 6.1 combined innings in his two road starts. … The Dodgers broke camp with 8 starting pitchers. But they have since traded Aaron Harang and lost Zach Greinke, Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano to the DL.

San Francisco Giants player of the week: Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey pushes a ground ball single to right field  in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey pushes a ground ball single to right field in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Remember when the Giants are 12-8 after three weeks? Remember that the Giants did that despite Buster Posey hitting his stride?Remember how we thought the offense would really take off once Buster found his groove?

Well, Buster found it last week, hitting .429 (9 for 21) with two home runs, 6 RBI, three walks, just one strikeout. He had .500 OBP and a 1.310 OPS.

Pretty good huh? So what did the Giants do last week? They went 1-5.

This further proves that baseball is a team game, and the Giants need production up and down the lineup to succeed.

Last week’s player of the week — Brandon Crawford — hit .217 last week. Week 2′s POY, Marco Scutaro, hit .185.

We hope this isn’t a trend because we need Buster to stay hot.

Oh, and the Giants’ second best hitter last week? Any guesses? How about Brandon Belt (.389 avg, .476 OBP, 1.087 OPS).

Padres 8, Giants 7 (12): Giants continue to walk tight-rope, fall again

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford watches his three-run home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford watches his three-run home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Diego, Saturday, April 27, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

So let’s review the week as it is right, shall we?

Monday, the Giants trail 4-2 in the eighth, but they get a two-run homer from Buster Posey in the eighth to tie it, and a pinch-hit RBI single by Brandon Belt in the ninth to win it, 5-4.

Tuesday, the Giants trail 4-0 in the eighth, but they rally for two in the eighth and two more in the ninth (on a Belt two-run homer) to tie it and send it into extra innings. They lose it in 11, 6-4, when an error and wild pitch contribute to the Diamondbacks rally.

Wednesday, the Giants trail 2-1 in the ninth when they tie it on a Brandon Crawford home run. But Arizona scores in the 10th to win it, 3-2.

Friday, the Giants get a solid seven innings from Tim Lincecum, but can’t get him much offense and lose, 2-1.

That’s four games, three one-run games, two extra-inning games, and 1-3 record.

The Giants were due for a breather and figured to get one with Barry Zito on the mound. After all, the only two wins this season that didn’t require a save or walk-off hit featured Zito on the mound.

It looked that way as Crawford belted a three-run home run to help the Giants build a 5-0 lead through three innings.

And then the big inning hit. But we can’t really blame Zito much.

The Padres rally in the fourth was sparked by a two-base error by Andres Torres, when he completely whiffed a liner to left (and you thought Torres could only whiff at the plate).

Six runs would score in the inning, although only one was earned to Zito.

And if we’re looking to hand out blame, maybe we should send some Bruce Bochy’s way.

We’ve seen these two-run or three-run rallies get ugly on Zito before. But I think the lefty’s recent run on success led the skipper to leave his pitcher in and see if he could work his way out of it.

If this rally had come last season — any other season in a Giants uniform — Bochy would have had a quicker hook. Bochy needs to help Zito by going to get him during long innings. He loses his stuff when he asked to stay out there too long.

The Giants still managed to reclaim the lead on Hunter Pence’s two-run triple, but the Padres rallied to tie it 7-7.

It stayed that way in the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th until the Padres put runners on first and third with one out.

Nick Hundley hit a sharp one-hopper to Marco Scutaro for a potential inning-ending double play. But Scutaro could not corral it, and it went for a game-winning error.

And now the Giants turn to Ryan Vogelsong on Sunday against Jason Marquis. The Giants don’t need a breather. A win would right now would provide a breath of fresh error after a third consecutive one-run loss.

Hunter Pence stars as “Bluto” as Giants go “Animal House”

Given the Giants’ three-game losing streak, we thought Giants fans might need something to cheer them up.

The Giants have a longstanding tradition of producing clever commercials, and this year’s spots include a send-up to Hunter Pence’s pre-game speeches during last season’s World Series run and the movie classic “Animal House.”

It features:

  • Hunter Pence as Bluto
  • Buster Posey at Otter
  • Tim Lincecum as Boon
  • Brandon Belt as D-Day
  • Madison Bumgarner as Stork
  • Barry Zito as Pinto
  • Jeremy Affelt as Hoover

To watch the spot, click on the below image.

hunterbluto

Not bad. Not bad.

It seems appropriate that the Giants pay tribute to “Animal House” consider their roster includes a Panda, Baby Giraffe, White Shark, Horse, Crazy Horse and a Gopher. OK, that last one hasn’t caught on as we had hoped, but we’re not giving up.

If you want to see how the Giants’ effort measure up to the original, look here:

Or you can look at the Giants doing their impersonation of Hunter Pence.

Padres 2, Giants 1: Giants spin the time machine back to 2010

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum works against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of baseball game in San Diego, Friday, April 26, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum works against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of baseball game in San Diego, Friday, April 26, 2013. (AP photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

I think it was during a game in 2010 in San Diego that Giants announcer Duane Kuiper first coined the term “Giants baseball: Torture.”

Well, Friday’s game in San Diego felt a lot like 2010 all over again.

Tim Lincecum pitched a quality start (he gave up two runs in seven inning, striking out nine). But it didn’t matter because two runs were all the Padres needed to win this one. Even Luke Gregerson had a shutdown inning.

The 2013 Padres are not the 2010 Padres. And the 2013 Giants are not the 2010 Giants.

But for one night, it looked that way.

The Giants wasted some early opportunities to score more runs, then the hitters went into shutdown mode.

Angel Pagan opened the game with a single, stole second, went to third on a Marco Scutaro groundout and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning. Buster Posey then added a two out single.

The Giants got two more hits in the second, but got nothing to show for it thanks to a double-play ball.

In the third they put two on and nobody out, but the Padres’ Andrew Cashner retired Pablo Sandoval, Posey and Hunter Pence in order to end that threat. It started a string of 19 consecutive Giants hitters to be sent down.

Needing some ninth-inning magic YET AGAIN, the Giants almost pulled it off. Posey lined a one-out single to right. Brandon Belt added a two-out single to put runners on first and third. But Brandon Crawford grounded to second to end the game.

And the Giants wasted a nice outing from Lincecum.

The Freak got into a funk in the second and third innings. He wriggled himself out of a jam in the second, thanks to a double play. And he almost did it again in the third. But a pair of two-out singles plated the Padres’ lone two runs of the game. Other than that, it was six more scoreless innings.

That makes 29.2 innings thrown by Lincecum this season. All 12 earned runs he’s allowed have come in four innings. The other 25.2 have been scoreless. He lowered his ERA to 3.64.

The loss makes three in a row for the Giants. But never fear, Barry Zito is here.

The Giants have won 13 games this season. Seven of those wins have required a save. Two others were walk-off wins. The other two were 10-0 and 5-0 wins with Barry Zito on the mound.

So with Zito pitching, we can all just sit back, relax and enjoy an easy win.

San Francisco Giants Friday Farm Report: Brett Pill pushing for a call-up

bpill

Some fans were surprised to see the Giants break camp with three catchers. Manager Bruce Bochy liked the flexibility having three catchers gives him with late-inning substitutions. He also liked having a switch-hitting bat on the bench in Hector Sanchez.

But as Sanchez has struggled at the plate, the Giants may consider sending him back to the minors to get more at-bats. His spring at-bats were limited by a sore shoulder. Guillermo Quiroz getting a start on Wednesday may be an indicator that the Giants could be leaning in this direction.

If the Giants decide to send Sanchez down, who is the prime candidate to replace him?

Well, Brett Pill is stepping up. Pill was a candidate to make the club in spring training before a knee injury derailed those plans. Pill is back playing and he’s heating up.

Pill is hitting .354 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI in 17 games this season for Triple-A Fresno. He is on a 7-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .448 (13 for 29). He has belted home runs in each of past two games.

Also interesting is that he has only 11 strikeouts in 65 at-bats.

Pill has been playing first base for Fresno. If you start noticing him playing left field (or even third base), then that would be a sign that the Giants might be preparing to call him up.

TRIPLE-A FRESNO

  • RHP Yusmeiro Petit has looked sharp in his last two starts. He struck out 13 — one short of Tim Lincecum’s Fresno record — in just six innings of work against Tacoma on April 19. He held Reno to three runs in six innings on Thursday in a win.
  • 2B Carter Jurica is hitting .450 (9 for 20) in his last five games, raising his average to .371 on the season, 11th in the PCL. He also has a .436 OBP.

DOUBLE-A RICHMOND

  • 3B Adam Duvall: Duvall was off to a hot start, earning player of the week honors in the Eastern League. But he was placed on the disabled list with a disabled list and not expected back until early May.
  • SS Joe Panik: Panik is heating up. He’s on a six-game hitting streak during which he’s hit 10 for 20, raising his average to .288. He’s also homered in two of the past three games. He’s also drawn four walks in the past three games, raising his OBP to .374.
  • OF Javier Herrera. Herrera has a 8-game hitting streak, during which he’s 10 for 22 and raising his average to .324. He’s also sixth in the Eastern League with a .432 OBP.
  • RHP Justin Fitzgerald. The 27-year-old pitcher continues to have a stellar 2013 and may soon earn a promotion. He threw five shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and one walk against Altoona. His season ERA is 1.42 with 29 Ks to BBs in 19 innings.

CLASS A SAN JOSE

  • RHP Kyle Crick: One of the Giants’ top pitching prospects went on the DL with an oblique strain.
  • RHP Clayton Blackburn: Another top pitching prospect continues to pitch well. Blackburn has a 1.64 ERA with 25 Ks and 2 BB in 22 innings.
  • 1B Angel Villalona: The one-time top prospect continues to progress. He is hitting 7 for 21 over his last five games with 1 HR and 7 RBI. He’s still hitting .193 for the season.

CLASS A AUGUSTA

  • RHP Chris Stratton: The 2012 first-rounder suffered his first loss on Thursday, giving up four runs in six innings. But he also struck out 11. He has a 2.38 ERA and 28 Ks and 8 BB in 22.2 innings.
  • RHP Martin Agosta: Another pitching prospect is 3-1 with 1.71 ERA with 27 Ks and 7 BB in 21 innings.
  • RHP Joan Gregoria: He is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA with an eye-popping 25 Ks and 1 BB in 19 innings. He only pitched two innings in the nightcap of the doubleheader Thursday. No explanation there that I could find.

Ten prime suspects in the abduction of the Barry Bonds’ home run marker at AT&T Park

Glue is seen on the brick facade in right center field (to the left of the Comcast sign) where a plaque commemorating Barry Bonds' 756 home run was affixed seen during the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants baseball game Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in San Francisco. The plaque has been missing for about a week. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Glue is seen on the brick facade in right center field (to the left of the Comcast sign) where a plaque commemorating Barry Bonds’ 756 home run was affixed seen during the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants baseball game Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in San Francisco. The plaque has been missing for about a week. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The shield honoring Barry Bonds’ 756th career home run that broke Hank Aaron’s record has gone missing.

Last weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote about the missing shield, which resided on the right-center field wall at AT&T Park to mark the spot where Bonds’ home run ball landed. All that is left is some adhesive residue where the shield used to be.

The Giants say they didn’t take the shield down, and don’t know who did or what they did with it. The team is working on getting the shield replaced.

Well, MoreSplashHits believes justice should be sought and the perpetrators pursued in this crime against Giant Nation. And we’ve assembled this list of some prime suspects.

No. 10 Jeff Kent

We all know Kent and Bonds were not the best of friends. And we know Kent can’t be trusted (He once told the Giants he broke his hand while washing his truck when he really did it in a spill on a dirt bike). He has questionable character (he signed to play with the Dodgers). AND he was at AT&T Park during the first homestand. Hmmmmm.

jeffbarry

9. John Smoltz

Bonds’ didn’t have a lot fans around baseball, least of all among pitchers. There’s the story of Bonds walking into the clubhouse and pointing out pitchers who he had hit home runs off of. Well, no pitcher surrendered more of Bonds’ 765 career homers than John Smoltz. Actually, Bonds hit nine home runs off Smoltz and Greg Maddux, but Bonds had 39 fewer at-bats against Smoltz. That makes him a prime candidate.

smotzlei

8. Swiper

That sneaky fox is always trying to swipe our stuff.

swiper

7. Greg Anderson

Anderson was Bonds’ boyhood friend and personal trainer. He refused to testify against Bonds during his perjury trial. Maybe the shield was part of the deal to keep Anderson quiet. Or maybe Anderson thought he deserved more. And we all know he’s willing to do the time in jail.

gregander

6. Matthew Parrella and Jeffrey Nedrow

Parrella and Nedrow were the U.S. attorneys who prosecuted Bonds’ perjury case after a four-year (FOUR YEARS!!!) investigation into whether a witness lied to a grand jury in a case in which the defendents were eventually found guilty. The perjury investigation lasted longer than the BALCO investigation. The case resulted in one guilty verdict out of four, and that was for obstruction of justice. That verdict is currently under appeal. That shield was a constant reminder of how this witch hunt failed. Maybe the government should spend four years investigating these guys and their predecessors.

justice

5. AT&T Park Seagulls

We wouldn’t put anything past these ballpark scavengers.

seagull

4. Barry Bonds

Why not Barry? Perhaps he thought it would the shield would look nice over his fireplace. Bonds could be thinking “I hit the homer; the shield is mine.” Plus his personal service contract with the team is about to expire, so maybe he thought it was time to swoop in. And he is a convicted felon …. at least, for now.

MVPBonds

3. Mike Bacsik

Bacsik’s name has gone down in infamy as the pitcher who surrendered Bonds’ 756th home run. Of course, if you asked your average fan “Who was the pitcher who gave up Bonds’ 756th home run?” They would struggle to come up with answer. Maybe that’s because Bacsik did not have a distinguished career. Or maybe it’s because Bonds’ record-breaker is not as celebrated as Hank Aaron’s 715th homer. So to keep from becoming the next Al Downing, Bacsik lifted the shield in an effort to send the moment more into obscurity.

bacsik

2. Bud Selig

Back in 2007, the commissioner started to follow Bonds around as he approached Aaron’s record. And who can forget on the night Bonds tied Aaron’s mark at Petco Park the image of Selig standing with his hands in his pockets while the rest of the stadium cheered Bonds’ accomplishment. What a weenie. Selig is a friend of Aaron’s, having signed the slugger and bringing him back to Milwaukee late in his career. Also, Selig always consider Bonds the poster boy of his failings as commissioner to get PED testing done earlier and put an end to the steroids era. Bonds’ playing days are over, but maybe that shield serves as another reminder to Selig. Plus, he’s a weenie.

Budpick

1. Torii Hunter

Oh, so we’re looking for someone who took something that rightfully belonged to Bonds. Who else are you going to consider than Hunter? Need evidence, we offer you this image from the 2002 All-Star Game.

torri

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2 (10): Another sexy comeback spoiled

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, right, celebrates after hitting a solo home run off Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher David Hernandez with teammate Nick Noonan (21) during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford, right, celebrates after hitting a solo home run off Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher David Hernandez with teammate Nick Noonan (21) during the ninth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Remember last year when Brandon Crawford finished second in All-Star voting at shortstop, and people cried out injustice.

Well if he finishes second again this year, they may cry injustice again … but this time because Crawford didn’t finish first.

It’s still early, but Crawford still building a season with All-Star credentials with the bat to go with his soon-to-be Golden Glove.

Crawford delivered an RBI double to right-center in the seventh, giving the Giants a 1-0 lead.

After the Diamondbacks rallied to take the lead in the ninth, Crawford smacked a solo home run to right to tie the game.

So who is leading the Giants in hitting this season? Brandon Crawford (.320).

Who leads the Giants in home runs? Brandon Crawford (4, tied with Hunter Pence)

Slugging? Crawford

OBP? Crawford

Crawford’s late inning heroics — it was the third time in three games that the Giants tied the game in the eighth or ninth innings with a home run — went for naught as the Diamondbacks tallied a run in the 10th for the win, and to take the series.

But that was only because Crawford didn’t get a chance to bat in the 10th. He was on deck when Joaquin Arias made the final out.

OTHER NOTES

  • Despite the series loss, the Giants still had a 4-2 homestand, maintaining their pace of winning at home (8-4) and playing .500 baseball on the road (5-5).
  • Bochy did his let-the-pitcher-hit-only-to-yank-him-in-the-next-inning strategy again. With a runner on third and one out (and the Giants leading 1-0), Bochy let Bumgarner hit. He struck out. The next half inning, Bumgarner was lifted after allowing the tying run to score with one out. I would have preferred to see Bochy get that run in from third, then hand a 2-0 lead over to the bullpen.
  • Sketchy defense hurt the Giants again. Arizona’s ninth-inning rally was started with two outs when Angel Pagan misread a pop-up by Didi Gregorious. Instead a fly out to shallow center and the third out, Pagan went back at first and the ball dropped for a hit. To make matters worse, Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to make a play on Gregorious as he tried to take second.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4: Buster Posey is heating up; Is Brandon Belt next?

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt singles in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday, April 22, 2013 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt singles in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday, April 22, 2013 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

After the Giants tied the game in the eighth inning and two out, Joaquin Arias came up against right-hander David Hernandez.

Arias got his second consecutive start at first place against a left-hander in place of the struggling Brandon Belt.

But with a right-hander on the mound in Hernandez, I wondered why manager Bruce Bochy didn’t replace Arias with Belt in the eighth.

But Bochy showed why he’s a better manager than I am.

In the top of the ninth, after the Diamondbacks put the go-ahead run on second, Bochy made the double-switch. In came Sergio Romo from the bullpen for Jose Mijares. The other part of the double switch was Belt in for Arias at first base, meaning Belt would bat third in the bottom of the ninth.

After Romo ended in the top of the ninth on one pitch, Andres Torres led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Brandon Crawford sacrificed him to second, bringing Belt to the plate.

Belt came into Monday batting .183. Not great, but there had been signs of improvement. Over his previous six games, Belt was hitting .294 (5 for 17), but six of his 12 outs were by strikeout.

Bochy along with hitting coaches Hensley Meulens and Joe Lefebvre met with Belt during batting practice Monday, telling Belt to slow down his body movements at the plate.

Well, the advice worked, as Belt slapped a pitch from Tony Sipp into left-center for a game-winning single.

“When you get to this point you feel like you’ve heard a lot of things, but sometimes you forget it, and it’s nice to have another set of eyes to remind you,” said Belt, who added that Monday’s single was his first big-league walk-off hit.

Despite the big hit, it’s unlikely he’ll be in the lineup Tuesday, as Arizona sends another left-hander in Patrick Corbin. Look for Posey at first base, with Hector Sanchez or Guillermo Quiroz catching Matt Cain.

Posey took a shot to the neck off a foul ball in the second inning. But Posey also delivered some shots to the ball with his bat.

His first-inning double helped the Giants tie the game 2-2. He also had another RBI double in the sixth inning when he was robbed by a nice catch by former teammate Cody Ross in his first game at AT&T since leaving the Giants as a free agent after the 2011 season.

But Posey got the last laugh, blasting a two-run home run over the center-field wall, tying the game against at 4-4. It was Posey’s second home run in as many games. The normal mild-mannered Posey even showed a little emotion with a pump fist around the base paths.

We figure he’s earned a day off from catching duties for that.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 297 other followers