Brandon Belt

'Tough mentality' early helps Giants' Logan Webb earn win in MLB debut

'Tough mentality' early helps Giants' Logan Webb earn win in MLB debut

PHOENIX -- Logan Webb left 30 tickets at Chase Field for family members and friends who wanted to watch his big league debut. Some came on flights paid for by the Giants, but others made the long drive from Rocklin. 

Webb wasn't sure exactly how many of the 30 tickets got used up, although he knew it was nearly all of them, if not all. He didn't look into the seats to confirm, preferring to keep his focus on the field during the biggest moment of his baseball career.

"I could hear them," Webb added, smiling.

The ones who drove 11 hours certainly got their money's worth. Webb was sharp and showed toughness in his first big league start, pitching five solid innings in a game the Giants would go on to win 11-6

The 22-year-old was charged with one earned run (another came across on an error), struck out seven and walked one. Webb scattered five hits while becoming the first Giants starter since Ryan Sadowski in 2009 to win his debut.

"He stayed poised out there and gave us five solid innings," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He looked good, didn't he? He had good stuff, good command, a nice slider and changeup. He did a good job in this ballpark in his debut."

Webb had plenty of nerves for his lone Triple-A start on Monday, then had to fly to Phoenix and watch the Giants and Diamondbacks combine for 12 homers a night before he took the ball. He said there were even more nerves as he took the mound Saturday, but some dissipated with his first strike, others with his first out. The Diamondbacks scored two in the first but Webb didn't allow another run. 

"He's got a real tough mentality," Bochy said. "That's what you like about him. You can tell, he's out there and all business."

Webb is known for being a bulldog on the mound, but it wasn't those early runs that brought out the most emotion. He yelled into his glove after ending the sixth with a nasty slider that Adam Jones waved at. The culprit was a walk issued one batter earlier.

"There's nothing I hate more than walks," he said later, smiling again and shaking his head. 

A commitment to that will keep him in the big leagues, although for now it's unclear when Webb will make his next start. The Giants had previously said that Tyler Beede and Dereck Rodriguez would start next week, and they have two off days in five days. Webb likely couldn't start again until Sunday in Oakland, and the 2019 Giants have not kept a player around for a week when he's not able to be used. 

But Saturday's performance certainly opened eyes. Bochy said the staff would discuss the roster situation. At the very least, they need another position player here for the series finale as they go for the sweep. The lineup -- paced by Brandon Belt's six RBI and Kevin Pillar's five hits -- had 18 hits, but there were only three players on the bench.

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Webb may have to wait a bit longer to stick in the rotation. But the first night was one he can be proud of. 

"For a kid, coming up here against a tough lineup like that, he won't forget tonight," Bochy said. 

Brandon Belt shares hilarious Carrie Underwood story off Topps baseball card

Brandon Belt shares hilarious Carrie Underwood story off Topps baseball card

Editor's note: The Giants sorted through stacks of their own Topps baseball cards as part of the "In the Cards" series with NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic. The first edition is with Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who had quite the story to share from one of his cards.

Brandon Belt currently has a pretty significant beard. But that wasn't always the case.

The Giants first baseman reflected on how clean-shaven he used to look, as he flipped through old Topps baseball cards of himself before Saturday's National Baseball Card Day.

NBC Sports Bay Area Giants insider Alex Pavlovic could hardly recognize the 2016 NL All-Star, as Belt said he started sporting the beard in hopes of a more defined jawline.

"I was trying to be more attractive," Belt quipped. "I'm not sure it helped."

As Belt and Pavlovic continued flipping through the cards, they looked at the backs for some "fun facts." One card revealed that the highlight of his 2012-2013 offseason was when he and former Giants pitcher Barry Zito presented an American Country Award to Carrie Underwood, which Belt called "a highlight of my life." 

But things did get a little weird when Belt presented the award to the country music star.

"She comes up there, and I hand her the trophy and I have to give her a hug. And I give her a hug, and her hair gets all in my mouth," Belt explained. 

"But it was OK -- it tasted like oranges. I don't know why, maybe it was her hairspray. It tasted like oranges. And it was actually pretty pleasant. I know it's kind of weird to say."

Belt added Underwood apparently got wind of that, and probably believes he's a "big weirdo" now. But he said it remains one of the highlights of his life, no matter what Underwood or anyone else might think. 

You can watch the entire Topps "In the Cards" interview with Belt in the video player above.

Giants who won World Series compare current club to 'even years' teams

Giants who won World Series compare current club to 'even years' teams

The Giants are in the midst of something special. It's hard to describe it, but it could be compared to one thing ... themselves.

ESPN's Marly Rivera spoke to members of the current Giants -- the ones who earned those three World Series rings in 2010, 2012 and 2014 -- and how those three championships compare to what they have going now, especially the 2014 team. 

"I've tried to figure that stuff out, and I know with this game there is one thing I know for sure: Once you think you've got something figured out, you're wrong," Madison Bumgarner told ESPN. "It was just like somebody flipped a switch and it all started changing. If there is something to it, I don't know what it is."

The Orange and Black find themselves just 2 1/2 games behind the Nationals and Phillies in the NL wild-card hunt. They also have a record above .500 and are 14-6 since the All-Star break, and 11-2 in extra-inning games.

But Bumgarner is enjoying surprising everyone -- a mentality he's used to.

"I don't remember a time where we won that we were expected to win. And I would rather be that way. I would rather be an underdog-type of team that has a chip on their shoulder, playing with an edge, than somebody that is supposed to run away with it."

The Giants still have some of the teammates who were a part of those "even year" clubs. And leading the way then and now is Bruce Bochy.

"They have championship blood in them, and they show it, and it starts with these core guys," Bochy told ESPN. "We're fortunate that we still have our core here, and that brings stability. It brings confidence. They do such a great job with the young guys, making them feel comfortable and also holding each other accountable."

Bochy added that after their first championship, they were happy -- but still uncertain if the team was the real deal or not. 

"But when you do it two or three times, they have it. It's in their DNA, and you can see where their game has picked up and they feel it," he said.

Giants third baseman and utility extraordinaire Pablo Sandoval compared the current roster to that of the 2014 squad.

"This team has a lot of things in common with that 2014 team," Sandoval said. "The veterans on this team, Madison, Crawford, Belt, are here to show our talented young guys that it can be done, with Buster as our captain, our leader, who leads by example and has taught all of us to give everything for this team.

"We have a lot of young players, that some people would say are not well-known names; it is no longer about Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford or Pablo Sandoval. Of course, we still have our workhorse, Madison Bumgarner, and our incredible bullpen, and then you look all around at this young talent, every day someone steps up. And whether it be Mike [Yastrzemski] or Alex Dickerson or Austin Slater, any of our young players, any given day, any one of them will help us win."

"That's what we had in 2014," Sandoval added. "There were no heroes, just guys getting things done."

Sounds familiar.

Posey agreed with Pablo's sentiments.

"The main difference thus far for me is that three weeks ago we were like 12 games below .500 and now we're a game over, whereas in 2014 there was more consistency than there has been to this point," Posey said.

"But we see guys stepping up, and I think that has been true from 2010 all the way to now. Guys come in from other teams or through the organization that have been able to impact the team in a big way."

When it was two-time All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford's turn to chime in, he said the first few months of the season were a shock to the team's system. But they refused to accept it.

"It's about that fighter spirit. We were going to figure out a way to get this done."

First baseman Brandon Belt has two rings of his own he can show off, and despite some of the teammates becoming well ... older, he likes what has happened during this unexpected season.

"Looking back at the last couple of years, yes, there were really bad years, but I think a lot of that had to do with injuries and guys missing time. A lot of things that kind of came together to kind of form a perfect storm of awfulness. But I believe that all along we had it in us to kind of come back and make this run that we're doing right now."

The guys remain humble despite the recent success. As Posey says, the team still has around 60 games to go and "baseball, like a lot of sports, will humble you very quickly."

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But until then, the win column has been good to the team just as the team has been good to it.

And as MadBum says, "Winning changes everything."