Results tagged ‘ Brandon Belt ’
- WP: Tim Hudson (2-0)
- HR: Brandon Belt (5)
Brandon Belt is off to a hot start, and that’s a good thing on many levels.
For one, it’s showing that the adjustments he made last season, when he finished the season with eight home runs, 28 RBI and hitting .346 in the final two months of the season, are still producing results.
And it’s gotten Belt, who has been plagued by poor Aprils in his young Giants career, off to a good start to the season.
In his first three big league seasons, Belt has hit .214 with three home runs and 20 RBI in the month of April (and March, too).
This season, through eight games, he has five home runs, nine RBI and is hitting .343.
Belt smacked his fifth home run of the season in the first inning Tuesday as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks in their home opener.
In doing so, Belt became the sixth San Francisco Giant to hit five or more home runs in the first eight games of the season, joining some nice company.
- Willie Mays in 1964 (6)
- Orlando Cepeda in 1959 (5)
- Kevin Mitchell in 1989 (5)
- Barry Bonds in 2002 (5)
- Jose Cruz Jr. in 2003 (5)
That’s two Hall of Famers (and a third who should be) and two players who would go on to win the NL MVP award.
In four of the five previous seasons in which a Giant hit five homers in the first eight games, the Giants would win 90 or more games.
In the last three seasons a Giant accomplished the feat, the Giants would go on to advance to the World Series.
Mays, Mitchell and Bonds would go on to hit 46 or more home runs for the season.
All good signs for Belt.
HOME SWEET HOME OPENERS
Tuesday’s win was the Giants sixth consecutive win in their home opener.
FINE IN SUNSHINE
The Giants improved to 4-0 this season when playing in the daylight. The Giants are averaging 7.5 runs in those four day games.
The Giants will send Tim Lincecum to the mound against the Diamondbacks and Bronson Arroyo at 7:15 p.m. in a pitching rematch of last Thursday’s game that the Giants won 8-5.
Giants announcer Duane Kuiper said it best after Brandon Belt’s go-ahead three-run homer in a 9-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
“And the Giants have done it again.”
Some Giants fans have tried to attach the “torture” label on the 2013 Giants. But this team is much different from the 2010 team which inspired the label.
The 2010 team didn’t score a lot and pitched really well. That meant they played a lot of close games. But they were different than this year. The Giants had a narrow lead late, then would torture fans by barely holding onto those leads.
Even though the 2013 team has also played a ton of close games, because the team’s starting pitching has been so shaky, they find themselves having to rally late.
It’s torture when you’re team has a narrow lead and struggles to hang onto it. When your team is behind, there’s a feeling that they’ll probably lose. When they end up winning, it’s a bonus.
The Giants are becoming so proficient at these late-game comebacks, it’s almost becoming expected. Almost.
“We believe somebody’s going to do it,” Belt said, “and somebody does it. It’s amazing.”
Belt’s home run was the Giants’ ninth this season in the eighth or ninth innings. When you consider that the Giants have hit 21 total home runs, that’s an impressive percentage.
Even more impressive is that six of those nine home runs either tied the game or gave the Giants the lead. Five of those home runs have come against the Diamondbacks bullpen.
“These guys have been amazing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re not base hits. We need the long ball, and they’re coming through.”
It’s interesting to look at the numbers on the Giants’ late-game performances.
The Giants have hit 12 home runs in innings 1-7, and 9 in innings 8-9. The Giants homer once every 68 plate appearances in innings 1-7. They average a home run every 24 PAs in innings 8-9. In the ninth inning alone, the rate drops to one every 19.4 PAs.
Yet the Giants hit better earlier in the game — they hit .268 in innings 1-3, .266 in innings 4-6, but only .240 in innings 7-9.
However, they are more aggressive and efficient on the basepaths. They have seven steals in 10 attempts in innings 1-6, but 8 for 8 in innings 7-9.
They’ve also feasted on relievers. They have 11 home runs in 706 PAs against starting pitchers (1 every 64); 10 home runs in 358 PAs vs. relievers (1 every 36).
So are the Giants clutch or living dangerously?
Well, both. They’re living dangerously because their starting pitching has been putting them in bad situations, except when Madison Bumgarner starts. In those cases, they don’t score runs.
When MadBum starts, the Giants have scored 3, 4, 3, 3, 2 and 2. And not all of those runs were scored when MadBum was still in the game.
While it would be nice to win a game 6-1, that requires the starters — other than just MadBum — to keep the other team off the board.
But it’s nice to know that there is no quit in the 2013 Giants.
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.
- 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.”
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.
Sure, the Giants ended up losing to the Diamondbacks Tuesday. But the Dodgers also lost, preserving the Giants’ lead in the NL West to 4.5 games and reducing their magic number to clinch the division to 22.
But we’re MoreSplashHits, so we can let a Splash Hit go by without by homage to it.
In the Xth inning, Brandon Belt got a hold of an Ian Kennedy pitch and sent it deep into the night, over the wall and into the bay on the fly — the 62nd Splash Hit at AT&T Park.
The last three Splash Hits have come off the bat of Belt: Sept. 27 of last season vs. the Rockies, June 14 vs. the Astros and Tuesday night.
Belt’s three career Splash Hits put him in sole possession of third place for the most Splash Hits, behind Barry Bonds (35) and Pablo Sandoval (6).
And here it is. Enjoy:
WASHINGTON NATIONALS 6, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS 4: BOX SCORE
In need of a prayer, the San Francisco Giants added a Christian.
As expected, the Giants recalled Justin Christian from Triple-A Fresno to fill the roster spot created by outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for the rest of the regular season.
It won’t excite any Giants fans, but GM Brian Sabean said available options through trade were “not too compelling or interesting.”
So it looks like Gregor Blanco will be the Giants’ starting left fielder for the immediate future, with Christian providing an option against left-handed pitchers.
Christian has hit .348 at Triple-A Fresno this season. But in his brief stint with the Giants, he’s produced a batting average that would only be impressive to Aubrey Huff. He hit .158 in 41 plate appearances before being sent down on Aug. 1.
When Dan Otero was also headed to Fresno, MoreSplashHits thought that perhaps the Giants would have enough good sense to call up another position player, returning to the 13 player/12 pitcher roster. Instead, they called up Eric Hacker from Fresno to serve as the long man in the bullpen, until either Brad Penny comes off the DL or Guillermo Mota returns from his suspension.
Manager Bruce Bochy went to a 13-pitcher roster a couple of weeks ago to lessen the strain on a bullpen that had begun to show signs of weakness, particularly in a 20-game-in-20-day stretch.
But now with the day off Thursday and another on Aug. 27 before rosters expand on Sept. 1, that seems to be less of an issue.
Also, with a lineup that included Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence, Bochy said he wouldn’t be doing much pinch-hitting or double switches.
Take Cabrera out of that mix and insert Blanco, and Bochy may want to have more flexibility in his lineup.
One potential option the Giants should consider to fill the Cabrera void is a lineup in which Posey plays first base, Hector Sanchez catches and Brandon Belt plays left field.
Posey played quite a few games at first this season as the Giants looked to keep his bat in the lineup and give him a bit of a break from catching.
But with Belt swinging a hot bat of late, would it not make sense to keep both Posey’s and Belt’s bat in the lineup?
Plus there would be less of a drop-off in offensive production from Cabrera’s .346 average with Sanchez’s .279 average than than Blanco’s .236.
But that’s not the only advantage. It keeps Posey in the lineup more, and keeps him fresh as the season grinds into its dog days.
While it’s true that Belt has not played a game in the outfield since spring training this season, he did play 31 games in left field last season and handled himself well enough.
The Giants could make this work by sending Hacker back to Fresno and calling on Eli Whiteside to serve as the No. 3 catcher.
Brandon Belt had a big night Tuesday against the Nationals.
A few more inches, and it could have been a huge night.
Belt finished the night with a three-hit, three-RBI night, providing Madison Bumgarner with enough offense to pitch the Giants to a big win over the Washington Nationals.
But for Belt, it could have been so much more.
In the second inning, after Hunter Pence led off with a single, Belt sent a long drive to left center fielder that appeared to hit about one foot from the top of the wall for an RBI double.
When Bryce Harper’s throw went home, Belt tried to take third, but was easily thrown out by catcher Jesus Flores.
In the sixth, Belt came up with runners on first and second and one out when he sent a high, deep drive to right field that hit just inches from the top of the wall, scoring Pablo Sandoval from second.
But Belt spent to much time admiring his drive and less time running hard. That allowed Jayson Werth to play the ball off the wall and throw Belt out trying to take second base.
“Players have hit a lot of balls over their lives and usually you know which ones are going and which one’s aren’t,” Belt said. “It was one of those things where I decided not to go, and I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I’m not going to do that again.”
Well, if it makes Brandon feel any better, Giants announcer Dave Flemming thought it was gone, too.
Stil, it was two near home runs. Two outs on the basepaths. But two RBIs.
Belt got another chance in the eighth with runners on first and second and one out. This time, he smacked a single to right, scoring Buster Posey to score just ahead of Werth’s throw from right. That was part of an four-run eighth.
From there, Bumgarner did the rest, finishing the complete game on 108 pitches.
He could have had a shutout.
In the seventh, Werth sent a drive into Triples Alley that Hunter Pence was able to get to, but was unable to catch. It went for a leadoff triple and led to the Nationals’ lone run.
It was the lone bump on the night for Pence, who was 3 for 4 with two runs scored at the plate.
Combined, it was a 6-for-8 night with three RBI and three runs by two players who Belt described as “awkward.”
But they are both two key guys the Giants need to deliver down the stretch.
They give the Giants lineup a dangerous bat up and down the lineup.
For far too long, the Giants lineup got pretty lean in the No. 6-7-8 spots. Now with Pablo Sandoval off the DL, Pence and Belt make up the Nos. 6 and 7 spots. And even Brandon Crawford has been swinging the bat better in the No. 8 spot.
After a very slow start with the Giants, Pence is 5 for 16 (.313) with a home run, four runs, an four RBI in his last four games.
Belt is 17 for 36 (.472) in the month of August, with multi-hit game in five of his past nine games. It’s pushed his season average all the way to .267.
Crawford is riding a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s hit 10 for 23 (.435).
There’s good news on Aubrey Huff — he hurt his knee again
OK, that may seem a bit harsh. But as it pertains to Giants fans, it’s the truth.
Aubrey Huff has been out since June 10 with a sprained knee sustained when he very ungracefully failed to leap out of the dugout to celebrate Matt Cain’s perfect game.
He was apparently set to be activated when the Giants return home from their East Coast road trip on Monday.
But those plans are on hold for now. Huff returned to San Francisco Friday to have an MRI on his knee after pulling himself out of a game with the Fresno Grizzlies because of knee pain.
With the Grizzlies set to open a weekend series in Salt Lake City, Huff was supposed to join the San Jose Giants for the weekend before being activated Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy viewed Huff was a potential alternate to the struggling Brandon Belt at first base.
But we’re not sure Huff would have had much of anything to offer.
Huff opened his 20-day minor-league rehab stint on July 4 with the Class A San Jose Giants. He went 4 for 16 (.250) with one home run, three RBI, a double, four strikeouts and three walks in five games with San Jose. Not exactly stellar numbers against Class A competition.
On Monday, he joined the Grizzlies. In four games at Triple-A, he went 2 for 13. Both hits were singles on soft loopers to center.
His 11 outs were recorded in this fashion:
- One strikeout
- Two groundouts to shortstop
- One groundout to first base
- Seven groundouts to second base
He drove in one run — on a groundout to second on Thursday — and he capped his stint with Fresno with his lone walk, before pulling himself out of the game in the third inning.
If Huff is doing THAT at Triple-A, I don’t know how the Giants think he’ll doing anything that would be an improvement on the .155 average he was hitting in 32 games with them this season.
I would rather see Belt, mired in his 3-for-30 slump, take his hacks as the Giants first baseman than Huff. With Belt, there’s at least a CHANCE he can turn things around.
But the Giants are clearly getting frustrated with Belt, as he becomes more frustrated with himself. So they must consider options, and they are not good:
- Start Buster Posey at first base with Eli Whiteside catching. They did this Friday against the Phillies, and may do it again with the lefty Cole Hamels pitching Saturday.
- They could start Joaquin Arias at third and Pablo Sandoval at first. Sandoval saw his first action at first base the other day in Atlanta. They could do this Saturday, but Arias has been getting starts at shortstop against lefties. But with Brandon Crawford swinging a hot bet, why not leave him in there.
- There’s always Brett Pill at Fresno. Pill is hitting . .283 with 4 HR and 27 RBI in 35 games at Fresno. Not bad, but over the past 10 games, Pill is hitting .195.
- They could give Conor Gillaspie another shot at third base, playing the Panda at first. Gillaspie is hitting .306 with 9 HR and 35 RBI for Fresno. But like Pill, Gillaspie is hitting .195 over his past 10 games.
- They can look to the trade market for help. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot enticing options out there.
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.
New York Mets 5, San Francisco Giants 4: God intervenes on behalf of Brandon Belt and other wackiness
Giants fandom has been squealing all season about how Brandon Belt must be starting at first base for the Giants, even as the young first baseman has been hitting below the Mendoza Line and Aubrey Huff was having success at the plate.
But now Belt is hitting above the Mendoza Line … and Huff is not.
Belt is now hitting .238. Huff is hitting .182 after a 1-for-16 skid that included an 0-for-4 day reminiscent of the 2011 Huff (two infield pop ups and two ground balls to the right-side of the infield).
And as if that were not enough to compell manager Bruce Bochy to start Belt on Sunday, the Lord intervened on Saturday in New York.
With two on and two out in the top of the ninth and the Giants down 4-2, Bochy sent Belt to the plate as a pinch hitter.
After falling behind in the count, Belt hit what appeared to be a game-ending pop up to shortstop.
But as shortstop Ruben Tejada drifted out into the outfield, it looked as if maybe Belt’s hit could drop between Tejada and center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Then as Nieuwenhuis came charging in, the ball inexplicably fell behind the Mets center fielder. In the scorebook, it was a two-run, game-tying double for Belt.
If that is not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.
But in the end, it didn’t matter much because the wackiness didn’t end there.
Bochy’s penchant for making move-upon-move — a strategy that paid off with a victory Friday night — ending up biting the Giants manager on Saturday.
First, in the top of the ninth, Bochy had his backup catcher, Hector Sanchez, hit for his shortstop Brandon Crawford to avoid having the lefty Crawford hit against the lefty Tim Byrdak. It was a risky move considering that the Giants’ lone backup infielder, Ryan Theriot, was still not available because of illness.
And the move didn’t pay off when Sanchez struck out.
Then Bochy had Brett Pill pinch-hit for the pitchers’ spot. Now, it’s worth noting that Pill actually had some experience playing second base last year at Triple-A Fresno and took some grounders at second prior to Saturday’s game.
But after Pill was announced as the hitter, the Mets brought in right-hander Jon Rauch. So Bochy then had Belt hit for Pill, taking Pill out of the game.
That move worked — because God decreed it to be so.
But in the bottom of the inning, it forced Bochy into a most unusal defensive alignment. Emmanuel Burriss went to shortstop, Belt went for first and Aubrey Huff went to second.
Yes, we said Aubrey Huff at second base.
Now, in 1,234 games in 13 major-league seasons, how many times, prior to Saturday, had Huff played second base?
Even in 339 minor-league games, he had never played second.
And it showed.
After a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt and a walk put runners on first and second with one out, Mike Baxter hit, in normal defensive alignments, what should have been a custom-made double-play ball to shortstop. But in this defensive alignment, it should have at least produced a force out at second.
One problem, though. When Baxter hit the ball directly at Burriss at short, Huff broke toward first base. He actually broke toward first base.
By the time Huff realized he was playing SECOND BASE, Burriss had to adjust quickly and throw to first. But the throw to first was late and Baxter was safe (even though replays indicated he was out).
Now, we have the bases loaded and one out.
Nieuwenhuis followed by hitting a grounder to Belt, who threw to home to force out Scott Hairston.
And this is where Buster Posey, who made two great defensive plays to bail out the Giants in the eighth, made a bad decision.
Posey tried to throw back to Belt at first to double up the fast Nieuwenhuis. When Scott Hairston’s slide home clipped Posey in the foot (another questionable call by the umpire to allow that), Posey’s throw sailed into right field and the Mets won.
Tim Lincecum hopes to get things figure out when he faces Dillon Gee in 10:10 a.m. Sunday.