During his rapid ascent to the Majors, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was ranked as highly as the #23 overall prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season. Promoted that same year, Belt took a while to get kickstarted in the Majors. His wrist was fractured on a pitch thrown by Cardinals reliever Trever Miller on May 31 and didn’t return until July 19. He had only limited power between his return and the end of the regular season.
Giants fans, for the most part, were running out of patience with Belt. They wanted results, and they wanted them quickly. Any excitement that had been generated by Belt dissipated and only the most patient stuck with him through the adversity. That patience has been rewarded as he has played quite well throughout the 2013 season. Belt, with a solo home run in today’s victory over the Nationals, boosted his OPS to .826, the fourth-best mark among National League first basemen (min. 300 plate appearances), trailing Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Freddie Freeman.
2013 has been disappointing for Giants fans, but the breakout season by Belt — the team’s second-best hitter behind Buster Posey — should be encouraging at least.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.