Brandon Belt both hit and got hit again as he continued his rehab trip in San Jose on Friday night. His second DH appearance began strong on the eve of All-Brandon Weekend, as the lefty hit a home run to right field in his first at-bat of the night. The blast came against top Diamondbacks prospect Braden Shipley, Arizona’s first round pick in the 2013 draft.
Belt returned to the plate in the third inning and got plunked in the forearm by a 95 miles-per-hour fastball from Shipley. It the second HBP in as many days for a guy coming off the disabled list for a broken thumb in a painful at-bat on May 9 in Los Angeles. In the fourth inning, Belt flew out to center field, then later hit a sharp single to right in the seventh. He was replaced by a pinch runner to end his night 2-for-3 with a home run and hit-by-pitch.
The San Jose Giants ended up beating the Visalia Rawhide 8-3, as the offense thrived with Belt’s home run and a grand slam off the bat of Chuckie Jones. Chris Stratton threw 93 pitches over five innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two walks, ten strikeouts and a wild pitch that resulted in a Visalia run. Mason McVay followed with three scoreless innings, giving up just three hits while walking two and striking out four.
Belt is now 3-for-6 with a home run and two bruises from being hit by pitches. San Francisco will need Belt to pick up where he left off in May and aid a struggling offense that has been outscored by 24 over their last twelve games at home. The Giants have lost ten of those games at Third and King, as well as hitting just eight home runs over their last 19 games overall. They recorded just three hits in tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, although a pitcher with a league-leading ERA like Johnny Cueto can do that. Belt went on the disabled list with a then team-leading nine home runs, and today trails only Morse and Hunter Pence in that category.
Belt will likely start again for San Jose through the weekend, and if he doesn’t get back to San Francisco for the rest of this homestand, the Giants will continue to rotate between Michael Morse, Adam Duvall and Buster Posey at first base. Morse has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 games, while Posey’s June average is third-best in the National League. Pence has also been strong, and Duvall has even shown some life already, hitting his first career home run last night. However, with much of the offense struggling, manager Bruce Bochy and the Giants stay hopeful for Belt to return by the target date of July 4, when the Giants fly down to Southern California to take on the Padres.