Cody Ross is back from the disabled list and batting cleanup for San Francisco this afternoon, and to make room on the roster the Giants have optioned top prospect Brandon Belt back to Triple-A.
Belt played regularly after somewhat surprisingly making the team out of spring training, starting 13 of 17 games, but he hit just .192 with one homer and a .569 OPS in 60 plate appearances and in order to get him into the lineup the Giants had to weaken the outfield defense with Aubrey Huff in right field.
That’s going to remain an issue whenever Belt returns, because Huff is under contract for $10 million next season and has a $10 million option or $2 million buyout for 2013, but the 23-year-old Belt can benefit from more time in the minors–he spent just 13 games at Triple-A last season–and by sending him back down the Giants keep his service time clock from ticking any further. Belt remains one of the best hitting prospects in baseball, but he’s not a fully formed major leaguer yet and may get some outfield work himself in Fresno.
Stephen Strasburg‘s bat was on fire Thursday night in Atlanta. He hit a three-run home run off of Touki Toussaint to cap off an eight-run third inning, then added a two-run single off of Toussaint in the fifth.
The last time a pitcher knocked in at least five runs was on April 11, 2014 when Madison Bumgarner homered and drove in five runs at home against the Rockies. Strasburg is just the seventh pitcher since 2000 to knock in five runs in one game. The others, along with Strasburg and Bumgarner:
- Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) vs. Reds, October 1, 2009 (HR, 6 RBI)
- Jason Marquis (Cubs) vs. Mets, September 22, 2008 (HR, 5 RBI)
- Micah Owings (Diamondbacks) vs. Braves, August 18, 2007 (2 HR, 6 RBI)
- Robert Person (Phillies) vs. Expos, June 2, 2002 (HR, 7 RBI)
- Shawn Estes (Giants) vs. Expos, May 24, 2000 (HR, 5 RBI)
Strasburg is 3-for-3 overall as he also singled to lead off the third. Tonight’s homer marked the fourth of his career and he’s now up to 25 RBI.
Strasburg is performing well on the mound as well. At the time of this writing, he has held the Braves to a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over four innings as the Nationals lead 10-1.