SAN FRANCISCO -- A swollen knee might keep Brandon Belt out of the Giants' lineup Friday night against the Colorado Rockies. However, expect Giants manager Bruce Bochy to keep Belt on the field by any means necessary.Belt has proven during his eight-year career that when he's in the kind of
SAN FRANCISCO -- A swollen knee might keep Brandon Belt out of the Giants' lineup Friday night against the Colorado Rockies. However, expect Giants manager Bruce Bochy to keep Belt on the field by any means necessary.
Belt has proven during his eight-year career that when he's in the kind of groove he currently occupies, sending him to the batter's box as much as circumstances allow usually benefits the Giants. Despite another home run by their slugging first baseman, they dropped Thursday night's series opener to the Colorado Rockies, 5-3, in 12 innings.
With the score tied 3-3 in the 12th, Giants reliever Pierce Johnson issued one-out walks to Chris Iannetta and Charlie Blackmon. Cory Gearrin relieved Johnson and coaxed Gerardo Parra's flyout to left field before walking Nolan Arenado to load the bases. Up came Carlos Gonzalez, who singled home two runs.
One inning earlier, Belt delivered a two-out double to give the Giants a chance to win. He has homered in four consecutive games to increase his team-leading total to 10. He's the first Giant to homer in four consecutive home games since Randy Winn did it from Sept. 16-30, 2005. Belt also became the first Giant with a home run in four consecutive games two separate times in a season since Barry Bonds did it in 2004. Belt also had a four-game streak April 18-22.
"We've all seen this," Bochy said. "He's a good hitter who's in a good zone right now."
Belt's on a six-game binge that includes a .429 batting average (12-for-28), six runs, four doubles, four homers and eight RBIs.
The Giants' 3-3 record in this stretch demonstrates their need for alternative sources of offense to complement Belt. Various hitters have helped sustain the Giants on various occasions this year. They lacked this diversity in their first game of the season against one of their chief National League West rivals.
Andrew McCutchen went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, prompting him after the game to tape a sign to his T-shirt with the phonetic spelling of his last name -- featuring four Ks. Buster Posey and Evan Longoria hit promising-looking drives that died on the warning track. Austin Jackson did record one of his most productive efforts of the season, doubling twice.
Brandon Crawford, who has been every bit as prodigious as Belt, if not more so, ultimately met with frustration. Plate umpire Chris Segal ejected him after his 12th-inning plate appearance in which he was called out on strikes. Bochy also got the thumb for arguing in defense of Crawford.
Crawford said that the fateful 3-2 pitch from Wade Davis that Segal called strike three was lower than the first pitch that was ruled ball one.
"That's the biggest thing I have an issue with," Crawford said. "If you call that first ball a strike, then I know I have to protect on that. But when you call it down and you call another pitch lower -- that should have been ball four -- a strike, that's what I had a problem with."
What happened next left Crawford incredulous.
"I got thrown out of a Major League Baseball game for not picking up my bat," Crawford said. "He told me to pick up my bat. I was already on my way to the dugout. I think we have somebody in the dugout whose job, literally, is to pick up the bat."
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If left fielder Gorkys Hernandez's second-inning catch of Gonzalez's long drive looked difficult, that's because it was. Hernandez's dash to the warning track just in front of the wall was rated a four-star play, based on its 33-percent catch probability, according to Statcast™. Hernandez acted quickly, covering 86 feet in 4.9 seconds.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Despite homering for the fourth consecutive game, Belt's trot around the bases was slightly out of step.
A replay review delayed Belt's round trip to home plate. His sixth-inning, two-out drive off Chad Bettis with Posey on first base initially was ruled in play as it caromed off the right-field wall. But the call was overturned following a crew-chief review, which revealed that the ball struck the wall high enough to be considered a homer. Belt's clout tied the score at 3.
The Giants hope that the momentum generated recently by left-hander Derek Holland can continue when their series against the Colorado Rockies continues on Friday at 7:15 p.m. PT. San Francisco has won three of Holland's last four starts, including his last outing -- a 6 1/3-inning effort in a 5-0 triumph at Pittsburgh last Sunday in what was easily his best performance of the year.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.