PHOENIX – Hey, Brandon Belt, nice game out of the No.8 spot. How’s about you walk into Bruce Bochy’s office and ask to stay there?
“Uhhhhh” Belt said.
“I don’t know if it’s the ideal position,” he continued. “As a hitter, you usually try to move up in the order.”
Fair enough. The No.8 spot is a terrible place to hit, especially in the National League. You’re sure to get pitched around half the time, and seldom come to the plate in RBI situations.
But for the Giants, the spot ahead of the pitcher has been more refreshing than spring water bottled by Ponce De Leon. The Giants have scored 15 runs from the No.8 spot; no other NL team has scored more than 11. It’s a spot that has suited Brandon Crawford just fine over his career.
This was a one-game adjustment, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, because Belt was 2 for 15 with nine strikeouts against Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy.
When Belt got down 0-2 in the second inning, a 10th strikeout seemed inevitable.
What was Belt’s approach at that point?
“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.”
Belt laid off two pitches, then pulled a home run that bounced off the top of the right field fence. It was his second homer of the season, and the first one hit by a Giants first baseman all season. (Belt’s other shot came as a pinch hitter.) The Giants were the last team in the majors that hadn’t received a homer from a first baseman.
Later on, Belt hit the tiebreaking, two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning that carried the Giants to a 6-4 victory that snapped a five-game losing streak.
“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.”
It was pointed out: Belt led the Cactus League in home runs. Maybe he just likes hitting in Arizona.
Should he start looking at house listings here?
“I think I’ll stay in Texas,” he said with a laugh. “I like Texas.”
Matt Cain remained winless this season, but the victory went to a good place Monday night.
[BAGGARLY: Home runs continue to flummox Cain]
Jean Machi had yet another impressive appearance, striking out two in the seventh inning. He became the pitcher of record when the Giants took the lead in the eighth.
It was the first major league victory for the 31-year-old, who spent 12 years in the minor leagues before making his debut last season.
Clearwater, Batavia, Visalia, Montgomery, New Hampshire, Altoona, Indianapolis, Mexico City, Fresno …
It’s amazing how many stats you can look up on the Internet these days. But I’m pretty sure there isn’t a site that can tell you how many miles Machi logged on dusty, bumpy bus rides through the minor leagues. Let's just go with a lot.
Machi received the requisite beer shower after the game (Bochy was good enough to save some after his ejection in the fifth), and the game ball as a souvenir.
“Ohhh cold!” Machi said.
Pretty sure he walked out of the ballpark feeling warm, though.
Yes, it was curious that Arizona manager Kirk Gibson stuck with sidewinding right-hander Brad Ziegler against a flurry of left-handed hitters in that eighth inning. Gibson was asked about it after the game and said rather cryptically that the bullpen has been used a lot and he just wanted to stay away from certain guys.
Left-hander Matt Reynolds, who hasn’t given up a run all year, was warming up in the ninth, though.
Maybe we should just shrug and chalk it up to Ron Wotus outmanaging Gibson yet again.