SAN FRANCISCO – Getting on base was no problem Monday for Brandon Belt.
He just didn’t enjoy himself much once he got there.
Belt was left stranded on the base paths twice as the Nationals’ Bryce Harper made terrific catches to stunt Giants’ rallies in a 4-1 Game 3 loss in the National League Division Series. Another time he was thrown out trying to steal second on an apparent missed sign.
In the ninth, Belt came up with two runners in scoring position and took a called third strike against Washington closer Drew Storen.
Chalk it up as an unfulfilling afternoon for one of the few Giants hitters swinging it well in the postseason.
“It’s the playoffs, you’re going to have good pitchers on both sides,” Belt said. “We know runs are gonna be at a premium, so we have to go out there and do our best to get on base and drive in runs.”
The Giants aren’t doing that. Though they lead this NLDS matchup 2-1 with Game 4 awaiting Tuesday, they’ve scored just six runs total in the first three games. It’s not for lack of effort on Belt’s part.
Despite his strikeout in the ninth, the first baseman is hitting .412 (7-for-17) in four games this postseason, including the Wild Card win over Pittsburgh. He singled twice and drew a walk Monday.
He was on first base in the second when Harper made a nice catch on Brandon Crawford’s drive to the wall in left. The Giants wound up stranding the bases loaded. In the seventh, Belt was on second with one out and had a birds-eye view as Harper raced into the gap and made a diving grab of Travis Ishikawa’s liner.
Belt raised eyebrows in the fourth when he tried to steal second against Nationals starter Doug Fister. Astonishingly, Fister only had one stolen base attempted against him this entire season. Crawford took the pitch and Belt was thrown out easily on a play where the wires got crossed somewhere. Neither Belt nor Crawford volunteered where the miscommunication happened.
Manager Bruce Bochy, on whether there was a missed sign: “I’d say, kinda. I’ll leave it at that.”
At any rate, Belt had a chance to help the Giants cut into a 4-0 deficit in the ninth when he came up with runners on second and third with no outs. Storen fell behind 2-0 but worked to even the count, then broke off a nasty curve that froze Belt for strike three.
“I’m trying to do the same thing I’ve done the entire day, the whole playoffs,” Belt said of that at-bat. “Just get a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it and hopefully it’s fair. He just threw a good pitch with two strikes on me.”
After leaving the door cracked for the Nationals, the Giants will try to slam it shut Tuesday.
“We’ve gotta come out ready to play,” Belt said, “because I know nobody in here wants to go back to Washington.”