On the heels of the San Francisco Giants' 9-6 victory and series sweep over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Brandon Belt can finally relax in the clubhouse. It was just last Saturday when the question of Belt's starting position in the batting order was in question. Now the only question remaining is can Belt gain some consistency out of his offensive production against the Diamondbacks?
Giants manager Bruce Bochy had to respond to critics for starting the first baseman on Saturday's game against the San Diego Padres.
"[Belt's] our everyday first baseman,” Bruce Bochy said. “He’s been swinging the bat better. He got a couple of hits last night, so he gets the starts. I’m not platooning at first. He’s feeling better at the plate, so we’ll see how he goes.” (per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle)
Belt hasn't had much success this season offensively. Between April 13th-20th, the first baseman went 5-for-24 in seven games. In five of those games Belt didn't record a hit. The Giants' skipper pulled him from the lineup against the Padres on April 21st.
Last Monday in San Francisco's series opener against the Diamondbacks, Belt was again scratched from the lineup. He came off the bench in a double-switch when Sergio Romo was called to finish the top of the ninth. With the game tied and Andres Torres in scoring position, Belt singled to left field and brought in Torres on a walk-off hit.
Belt followed that up the next night with his first home run of the season while pinch-hitting in the 9th inning. That rocket tied the game up at 4-4 before the Diamondbacks were able to win in extra innings.The first baseman returned to the starting lineup in the series finale. He hit a double to become the game-tying run in scoring position, but Joaquin Arias grounded out to end the threat.
The offense went a little south for Belt after the Giants were swept against the Padres the ensuing weekend. He went 3-for-11 with no runs batted in and three strikeouts.
What happens with the Giants take on the Diamondbacks again this week? Belt delivers two home runs and six RBI.
It's ridiculous how good Belt is against the NL West opponent, which favors the Giants should both teams be battling down the stretch to win the division. He has 27 hits and 17 RBIs against the Diamondbacks in his career, the most collected among all other opponents. His four home runs is just one shy of the career-high total he's hit against the Colorado Rockies.
Perhaps the Diamondbacks are Belt's go-to slump buster, but they gave the first baseman his starting job back and he's gotten hot again as the Giants get ready to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.