With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”
In the bottom of the first inning of a scoreless game — a beautiful day game, no less — Brandon Belt came up to bat with one on, and no outs. Mike Yastrzemski had worked a walk against Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Luke Weaver, and the San Francisco Giants had dreams of a first inning run. This was a very big deal, as you may recall that the 2019 Giants did not score a single first inning run.
(On a serious note, the 2019 Giants were outscored by 53 runs in the first inning. They were outscored by 42 runs in innings two through nine. That will never make sense.)
Belt took a fastball from Weaver about an inch or two high. Ball one. He took a breaking ball from Weaver about an inch or two outside. Ball two. Visibly frustrated, the young pitcher came right over the plate 2-0, with a fastball that Belt was timed to.
He drove the pitch into right-center field. It sounded beautiful. It looked beautiful.
Your first thought was pessimistic: Right, he’s gonna get AT&T’d. AGAIN.
Then the light bulb went off in your head, and your next thought was optimistic: They brought in the fences! ¡Adios, pelota!
And then the ball bounced off the top of the fence and ricocheted right to Kole Calhoun, who got the ball in quickly enough to hold Belt to a double. The part of the yard that had been altered in part because it for so long turned what should have been Belt dingers into Belt triples had turned what should have been a Belt triple into a Belt double.
And so you slumped your shoulders.
Still, the double got the job done, scoring Yaz. And Belt would then score on a double by Alex Dickerson, giving the Giants the type of whopping first inning lead — 2-0!!! — that they don’t know how to deal with.
But Belt wasn’t done. He exacted his revenge in the fourth inning by taking on center field, which was more forgiving, and earned him a solo home run. He added a double into the corner, and a walk in the later innings, finishing the day 3-4 with 9 total bases.
He can hit.
It was a welcome sight after Belt took a fastball off the wrist on Tuesday, and sat on Wednesday. The team maintained that he was fine, but we’ve heard that song and seen that dance before. How many times over the last few years has a Giants player been “fine, he’ll probably play tomorrow” for nine straight days while the team plays with 24 players before finally putting them on the injured list?
So it was great to see Belt only miss one game, and having him add 150 points to his OPS in one afternoon was pretty cool too.
It was also the season debut of Logan Webb, who was formally called up on Thursday morning to be the team’s fifth starter (Yolmer Sánchez was subsequently DFA’d.)
Webb’s first start of the year was pretty much in line with his starts during 2019, his first year in the bigs. He looked electric at times, earning 13 swing-throughs on just 83 pitches, but he also gave up a lot of hard contact. You wouldn’t call it a good start, but you would call it an encouraging performance, and the Giants will happily take that tradeoff in what figures to be a losing season.
On the whole, Webb pitched 5 innings, and allowed 8 hits, 1 walk, 4 runs, and 3 earned runs, while striking out 7. Gabe Kapler made it clear that Webb will get an extended look as the fifth starter, so he doesn’t have to be looking over his shoulder after the semi-rocky start.
Still, Webb got the win, thanks in part to Belt, in part to some timely hits by the Giants offense, and in part to a pair of jaw-dropping 6-4-3 double plays by Brandon Crawford, Mauricio Dubón, and Belt. Is there anything prettier?
In all, the Giants won 7-4, earning a draw in the four-game series against Arizona. It was the first series this year that they haven’t lost.
They’re now 5-8. I’ll take it.