SAN FRANCISCO – Brandon Belt is beginning to find his batting stroke. Not that you would know that by his position in the Giants’ batting order.
Belt will hit in the No. 8 spot for the fifth straight game Saturday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the Giants riding a four-game winning streak and the first baseman contributing to that success, manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t inclined to mess with a good thing.
[RELATED: Giants lineup: Crawford returns, Belt eighth]
“It’s working right now,” Bochy said before the game. “Whether you’re superstitious, or he’s comfortable there, right now we’re winning so he’s going to stay in the eighth spot.”
Belt entered Saturday hitting .323 (10-for-31) over his past 10 games. He’s gone deep in two of the past contests, including a three-run homer in the eighth inning Wednesday at Arizona that erased a 6-4 deficit and put the Giants ahead to stay.
This, after he opened the season in a 6-for-43 rut, which prompted Bochy to drop him from the No. 6 slot and bump Brandon Crawford higher.
With Belt swinging better right now, Bochy is hopeful that whoever bats seventh will benefit by seeing better pitches.
Crawford, who was off Friday and went just 2-for-21 on a recently completed road trip, batted seventh Saturday.
Bochy dropped strong hints that he’ll carry an eight-man bullpen once lefty Jose Mijares is activated from the bereavement list. That will happen Monday at the latest.
The relief corps as a whole has thrown well, leaving no obvious options to be sent down. And with the Giants’ starters not eating up enough innings right now, the idea of keeping an extra relief arm has appeal.
Only twice in the past six games has a Giants starting pitcher completed as many as six innings.
“We’re not quite getting the length we normally get from our starters, so we really use the bullpen more,” Bochy said. “By going with 13 (pitchers total), you’re gonna keep them all fresh. If you wear those guys down, it’s a domino effect. So by keeping another guy, it helps keeps guys fresh.
“Sure it may limit some moves, but that’s what you have to weigh. What’s more important for us right now? Having a third catcher or that extra pinch hitter, or having that extra pitcher?”
Should the Giants carry an eighth reliever, it will mean sending down a position player and leaving Bochy with a four-man bench. The logical candidates for demotion in that case would be infielder Nick Noonan and outfielders Francisco Peguero or Andres Torres.
The Kentucky Derby was shown on the JumboTron as the Giants stretched before batting practice. Most players showed interest, but nobody was as fired up as Hunter Pence. He made no secret he was picking Palace Malice to win the Run for the Roses, shouting out the colt’s name as he left the clubhouse for the field.
He was jumping up and down as Palace Malice stormed to an early lead before fading and finishing 12th in the 19-horse field.