While the Giants gave Aubrey Huff a vote of confidence following his adventures in right field following Opening Weekend, they’ve apparently seen enough. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Brandon Belt has been shagging flies in right field and that Bruce Bochy is going to move him out there — and Huff back to first — sometime in the next few days.
It makes sense: while Belt hasn’t played in the outfield since he was in high school, his lack of finely-honed instincts can be compensated for somewhat by his speed and athleticism. After all, Huff’s instincts are poor too, and he lacks the speed.
Of course, Belt shouldn’t get too cozy out there. Given that he has utterly failed to hit so far this year — he’s currently sporting a line of .158/.256/.263 in 43 plate appearances — this may be more about getting Huff used to first base in anticipation of Cody Ross coming back from the DL and returning to right field. At which point it’s entirely possible that Belt is sent back down to Fresno for some seasoning.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.