With a .183/.227/.233 triple-slash through his first 66 PA of the 2013 season, Brandon Belt — perpetual San Francisco Giants top prospect/member of Bruce Bochy‘s doghouse — hasn’t done a whole lot of positive things for either himself or his teammates.
In fact, he’d done enough of the opposite that he was relegated to the bench on Sunday, and once again did not get the opportunity to start Monday’s contest against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Belt was, however, given the chance to finish it — and this time, it was an opportunity that he would not squander.
Coming into the game in the ninth inning as part of a double switch in a 4-4 tie, the first baseman came up against Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez with Andres Torres on second representing the winning run. Belt had been 0-for-2 with a walk against the righty at this point, but it only took three pitches for him to make that 1-for-3, as he lofted a 1-1 slider to center-left to give his team the walk-off victory.
Aside from the fact that this gave the Giants their fourth-straight win, it was also a nice bit of momentary redemption for Belt, who could probably consider this a step forward in moving out of the bench limbo that isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory, even if it is unexpected.
That said, this was just one hit, and as timely as it was, the heroics on Monday hardly absolves the 25-year old from all of issues that come with another poor start to the year. Belt also scuffled early in 2012 (.540 OPS on April 17), and it wasn’t until a few days on the bench that he really started to warm up to put together his 1.6 fWAR season.
Will a similar exile work this time? That remains to be seen, but perhaps Belt’s big hit on Monday can provide a spark and a boost of confidence that bench or not, he is expected to deliver, and even when the game is on the line, this Giants team isn’t close to giving up on him yet.