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.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.