EXTRA BAGGS: Bumgarner's homer inspires Belt, etc.

September 12, 2012, 6:17 am
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DENVER A few weeks ago, Brandon Belt said a key to histurnaround at the plate was to stop internalizing everything, moping orworrying over his own struggles, and instead keep his thoughts external.

Think about helping the team win.

After the fourth inning Tuesday night, he had one morethought on the brain.

I just do not want to be outdone by Madison Bumgarner atthe plate at all, Belt said. I think he hit a three-run home run and I gotfour RBIs. So I beat him.

Bumgarners home run was an equalizer after the Rockiesscored four runs against him. Belt put the Giants in front with a two-rundouble in the fifth. Then he hit a solo home run in the seventh on a 95-mphfastball, no less, from right-hander Edgmer Escalona. The Giants needed all of those runs to hold off the Rockies in a 9-8 victory at Coors Field.

Belt helped the team win, all right.

It wasn't an isolated game, either. Belt is a .351 hitter over his last 36 games, including adominating .418 average against right-handers over that span. And hes gettinghis hits when the team needs them most. Hes 12 for his last 28 with runners inscoring position.

Its not changing my approach, Belt said. Earlier in theyear, Id put a little more pressure to get the runs in. Now Im treating itlike any other at-bat and Im confident I can put the ball in play.

His bat is too potent to keep out of the lineup, evenagainst a left-handed starter. Thats why Belt is expected to be in left fieldon Wednesday, with Buster Posey moving to first base so Hector Sanchez cancatch Tim Lincecum.

Its good to see him swinging the way he is, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said of Belt. Hes really starting to come into his own.The confidence is growing in him. This second half, hes showing what kind ofplayer he can be.

Especially when Bumgarner homers. The big lefty has gone deep twice this season. Belt has a home run in both those games.

This is not turning into a good second half for severalmembers of the Giants rotation. Bumgarner, like Ryan Vogelsong, is turning froma mild concern into a major one. (Can you imagine the panic around here if theoffense wasnt coming to the rescue so often?)

Bumgarner gave up four infield hits including two fluky onesoff third base, but the Rockies collected 11 in all against him in just 4 13innings. And 11 hits are 11 hits.

Bumgarnersvery succinct summary: The ball was up a lot and that didnt work out toogood.

Everything was up. His slider and fastball werent cracklingon the fringes as they did so often in the first half. Weve never seenBumgarner just tired to the point of gassed. We might be seeing it now, eventhough all parties insist that isnt the case.

I didnt have a good command of any pitch away, Bumgarnersaid. I pitch in a lot, but youve got to be able to throw away too and theywere more or less sitting on one spot. Youve got to make adjustments andfinish pitches better.

A fresh arm finishes pitches. A tired arm drags.

At least Bochy took out Bumgarner after 92 pitches. Theywere stressful innings, so it might not qualify as a light load. But this timeof year, every bit helps.

Speaking of time, this one clocked in at three hours, 43minutes and thats without any rain delays or stoppages due to some of thewet stuff that blew through in the early innings.

This is what happens when your starter works a short nightand Bruce Bochy has 14 relievers at his disposal in the bullpen. Were going tosee more of these down the stretch, I fear. Even Tony La Russa would roll hiseyes.

Aubrey Huff is good for comic relief, but since joining theclub Sept. 1, hes been good for more than that. Hes 3 for 5 with a walk as apinch hitter, and yes, Hector Sanchez made sure to stick his phone in Huffsface to be sure he saw the replay of his diving act following his single offthe wall in the seventh inning.

He smoked that ball, Bochy said. He did a good jobturning that double into a single.

Like a cat, Huff said.

A cat that might be spending his ninth life by getting on the playoff roster

Oh, and good thing Bochy used Francisco Peguero to pinch-run for Huff. Ifnot, theres no way on this planet or any other that Angel Pagan wouldve beenable to advance to third base and tie Willie Mays franchise record for triplesin a season.

Bumgarner has two home runs. Giants second basemen have combined for one all season.

As I understand it, the Houston Astros havent askedpermission to interview Ron Wotus, Tim Flannery or anyone else on the Giantsstaff about their vacant managerial position.

Im not sure thats a job any sane person would want totake, anyway. But the new guy is going to need to be prepared and relentlesslyoptimistic, and I cant think of two coaches who possess those qualities morethan Wotus and Flannery, respectively.

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