SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt struck out on a 95-mph fastball from Dodgers starter Julio Urias in the first inning on Sunday. He went down swinging on an 80-mph changeup two innings later.So when he faced Urias in the sixth inning, he knew he had to be ready for anything
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt struck out on a 95-mph fastball from Dodgers starter Julio Urias in the first inning on Sunday. He went down swinging on an 80-mph changeup two innings later.
So when he faced Urias in the sixth inning, he knew he had to be ready for anything from the 19-year-old left-hander. Urias offered him another surprise -- an extremely hittable 85-mph slider, which he deposited in the right-field seats for the two-run home run that broke a scoreless tie and gave the Giants a 2-1 triumph.
Asked what he saw from Urias, Belt said, "I didn't see much when I was up there, apparently. He obviously has good stuff. To be up in the big leagues at 19 years old, you obviously have to be pretty danged good."
However, every pitcher, regardless of his skill, occasionally flings a hanging slider. And with Joe Panik on base thanks to a one-out single, Belt proved that hitters are trained to make a pitcher regret such lapses.
"It wasn't a terrible pitch, but it was in a spot where I could do something with it," said Belt, whose eighth homer tied him with Buster Posey for the team lead. "When you get those, which is not very much at the big league level, you have to make sure you capitalize on it."
Since the venue was AT&T Park, where no-doubt home runs are rarities, Belt assumed nothing as he rounded first base -- quickly. Like all Giants, past as well as present, Belt has clobbered pitches that initially seemed destined to clear the barrier but fell short.
"Off the bat, honestly, I didn't know what was going to happen," he said. "You never know what's going to happen here. I thought there was a chance it would hit off the top of the wall, so I started [running quickly] right away."
Belt is batting .358 in his last 14 games. Of his last 19 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases (seven doubles, four homers). He's aware that the Giants are relying on him to sustain such production, particularly with right fielder Hunter Pence sidelined until August.
"I think when you lose a guy like [Pence], there's probably a few guys on the team that feel like, 'Hey, we need to pick this up a little bit.' I'm no different in that respect," Belt said. "Usually, when something like this happens, which it has in the past -- especially during our World Series runs -- it seems like the whole team steps up."
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.