Brandon Belt knocked a pitch in his first at bat that looked cleared for a goose-egg breaking bleacher landing. Somehow, that ball fell into Ender Inciarte‘s mitt, befuddling Belt:
“I thought it was gone… I really don’t know why it didn’t.”
Belt, therefore, didn’t have high expectations for a changeup he sent to a deeper part of the park in his very next at bat. It ended up clearing the right center field wall:
“I assumed it was going to be a triple. So I was pretty excited.”
It was that kind of topsy-turvy night for the Giants; one of the worst offenses in the National League bested one of the statistically better ones. Following their fifth shutout 24 hours prior, the Giants (21-30) put up crooked numbers in two whole innings to take a 6-3, series-tying win over the Atlanta Braves (21-26).
The Giants have had these Jekyll and Hyde moments at the plate game by game, a type of trend Bruce Bochy seemed to be in tuned with. Sometimes his hitters just try to force things, he noted, and get passive and behind the fastball. He reiterated the message tonight:
“Let it go. Let the bat go.”
Nick Hundley certainly looked liberated, knocking a two-run blast off Mike Foltynewicz to left for his first home run as a Giant. He’d go 2-for-4, accounting for three of the team’s six RBI, living up to the offensive potential this team hoped to see out of him, said Bochy:
“He has real good at bats. You like him out there with men on base.”
Hundley’s blast put the Giants up 2-0 in the second. Belt’s solo shot— his team-leading 10th of the year— made way for one of those rare Giants rallies in the fourth inning.
Hundley singled and Williamson knocked a bloop to shallow left with Hundley gunning. Ty Blach knocked a 2-2 single up the middle — his first hit not off a man named Clayton Kershaw — to score Hundley. Denard Span spun an RBI double down the third base line to give the Giants a 5-0 lead.
The offensive downpour magnified yet another pristine outing from Blach (W, 3-2, 3.83 ERA), who spun together his third-consecutive win. He came a seeing-eye single and overturned double-play short of a shutout — an achievement the Giants have yet to notch on their belt this season. Bochy thought this team could have been in store for their first tonight:
“He got strikeouts tonight and induced a lot of ground balls and double plays, just missed one…Little bit of luck and he doesn’t give up a run. He was throwing that well.”
Blach held the Braves to just three hits, two off Tyler Flowers, through 7-1/3 shutout innings. Then Rio Ruiz hit a double that ricocheted off Eduardo Nunez‘s glove in left and Ender Inciarte put runners on the corners with a near gapper that Joe Panik managed to halt.
Brandon Phillips put the Braves’ first run on the board, knocking a dribbler past Aaron Hill and Brandon Crawfords‘ arms outreached. Nick Markakis hit a sharp ground ball to Hill, who forced the out at second. Panik turned for the called double play, but the Braves’ successful challenge gave them their second run.
Blach struck out six, tying a career high, for his third win and the Giants’ first since they beat the Cubs on May 23. The young lefty has paved a nice groove in Madison Bumgarner‘s shoes, tallying a 2.54 ERA in his three wins. Blach will tell you success is fed from the advice and guidance he gets from the players around him and defense behind him. Hundley detected today that his breaking stuff wasn’t as sharp, so he found a way to work his changeup more into the mix.
Blach has a starter’s mentality, which is a relief for the skipper, in light of his ace’s big fall:
“Because of what happened, he’s in the rotation and he’s taking full advantage of it.”
Jarrett Parker, who broke his clavicle on April 16, took BP today for the first time since his injury. Bruce Bochy said he’s set to start his rehab assignment in a week. Hunter Pence, who has a hamstring strain, will probably start his rehab on Wednesday or Thursday… Conor Gillaspie, out with back spasms, had a set back in his rehab assignment and will get an MRI… Chrisian Arroyo got the day off and will probably get a few more since falling into a 21 at-bat hitless streak. He’ll take that time to regroup, refresh, said Bochy…Belt stole his second base of the year tonight, passing Buster Posey, who has one. He and Posey have a stolen base race with each other, he said, so that’ll be something to keep an eye on. It doesn’t have a name yet.