Giants’ Brandon Belt homers twice in first game back

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The Giants’ handling of Brandon Belt this season has been frustrating and confusing. He hasn’t produced, but that’s mostly because the San Francisco front office hasn’t given him an opportunity to produce.

(Belt entered play Sunday with only 90 major league plate appearances to his name).

If the talented 23-year-old is going to earn a more active role, he’ll have to make serious noise in the inconsistent spurts of playing time that he gets.

And that’s exactly what the kid did in Sunday afternoon’s 5-2 victory over the Marlins.

In his first game since returning to the majors, Belt crushed his third and fourth home runs of the season — both solo shots. He’s still batting just .232/.330/.415 and the Giants still seem to prefer Aubrey Huff at first base, but the tide can always change. Belt does have the ability to play in a corner outfield spot.

A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, Belt posted a .352/.455/.620 batting line, 23 home runs and 112 RBI in 136 games between Single-A San Jose, Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Fresno last season. He was rated the 23rd most-promising minor league player in the sport this past winter by Baseball America.

Video: Matt Carpenter makes history with three home runs, two doubles

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
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Matt Carpenter pulled his weight and then some during the Cardinals’ 18-5 win on Friday, becoming just the second player in MLB history to tally three home runs and two doubles in the same game… and the first-ever to do so in the first six innings of a single game.

Carpenter wasted little time getting the Cardinals on the board, first drawing a full count against Cubs lefty Jon Lester, then ricocheting a 92.4-MPH fastball off the scoreboard in right field for a leadoff home run. He returned in the second inning for another two-run shot and capped a seven-run spread in the fifth with an RBI double (his first double of the game was a leadoff hit in the fourth) before polishing off his performance with a third, three-run homer in the sixth.

Following Friday’s explosive five-run, seven-RBI performance, Carpenter is now batting .274/.381/.576 on the year with 23 home runs, 30 doubles and a .957 OPS in 388 PA. The last player to record five extra-base hits in one game was the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, who collected four runs and six RBI for the team back in June 2016. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch pointed out, Carpenter might have set another franchise record for most home runs in a game had interim manager Mike Shildt not removed him from the game in the bottom of the sixth. The record is still held by former club outfielder Mark Whiten, who collected four home runs (and a staggering 12 RBI) against the Reds in September 1993.