Giants

Brandon Belt blasts home plate umpire: 'You’re not sure if it’s on purpose'

Brandon Belt blasts home plate umpire: 'You’re not sure if it’s on purpose'

Brandon Belt homered for the third straight game Wednesday and has now hit a home run in his last five games against the Reds. That's not what he will remember from the afternoon, though. 

The Giants lost 6-3 to the Reds with a controversial called strike three on Belt. With a runner on first and Evan Longoria on deck, Belt let a fastball go by that appeared much out of the strike zone. But, not according to home plate umpire Doug Eddings. 

After the loss, Belt was irate with Eddings in the clubhouse, even questioning his motives on the called strikes that Belt certainly did not agree with. 

"It's tough because you hope an umpire doesn't affect a game like that, but he did and you're not sure if it's on purpose, either," Belt said to reporters. "We've heard that guy multiple times say that -- or insinuate -- that he's trying to get through the game fast. And then he makes calls like that where I can't imagine that he really thought was a strike, you gotta wonder." 

Belt was then asked about if he believes Eddings is really just trying to speed games up with his calls. 

"I don't know, but when you say it enough you start to believe it," Belt said. "I’m not sure if that’s connected or not, but if you don’t want it to be, then don’t say it.

“I’m not here to talk bad about the umpires. I think 99.9 percent of the umpires are great and I actually enjoy talking to them. But there’s just some times you have a feeling that one or two of them are trying to get the game over with, whether it’s through what they say or what they do, and that just can’t happen. You can’t have those guys affecting careers and affecting games like that.

“We had a really good hitter coming up after that who could have tied the game for us. And we never got that chance because he calls a ball that was so far off the plate I don’t even think I could have touched it if I swung at it."

Below you can see two pitches in Belt's last at-bat of the game that look outside of the zone, but were called strikes. 

Since 2015, data from Baseball Savant shows that Belt has taken the most called strike threes outside of the zone, with 50 in total. 

Belt has hit nine home runs, walked 24 times and struck out 41 times so far this season in 40 games. 

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

PITTSBURGH -- Madison Bumgarner was mad at himself for digging too big a hole Friday night, and he certainly did just that. But as the Giants move past the 20-game mark, it's clear that it's another part of the team mostly digging the holes. 

The Giants are the only team in the Majors without a run in the first inning and they have scored first just six times in 21 games. When Bumgarner gave up four in the bottom of the first Friday, that was all it took. The Giants had not, of course, done any damage in the top of the inning. They would lose 4-1 on their first night with the Pirates. 

The first-inning woes have been there since the first at-bats of the season. The Giants are 6-for-66 in the first inning, and all six of the hits have been singles. They have just two walks in 21 first innings and have struck out 21 times. 

"Not scoring early again, that's making every game an uphill climb for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Friday's script was familiar. After an 85-minute rain delay, Steven Duggar opened the night by striking out. He is 3-for-17 while leading off games, with seven strikeouts. Joe Panik, who is batting .193, also struck out and Buster Posey, batting .217, grounded out to second.  

Bochy said the staff is talking about changes that can be made, but they are limited by their personnel. Kevin Pillar also brings speed, but he's batting just .167. Gerardo Parra is at .224. Up and down the lineup, there is nobody hitting, or reaching base at a rate that screams "put me up near the top of the lineup!"

"There's not a lot that you can do at this point," Bochy said. "These are our guys and you can move them a spot or two. But wherever you hit in the order, those guys have to come through. You look at the back end of (Pittsburgh's) order and they did a pretty good job in the first inning."

Bumgarner retired the first two batters he faced before walking third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who entered batting just .130. Josh Bell singled and Francisco Cervelli hit a two-run double. The exit velocity barrage continued a bit longer, and singles by Pablo Reyes and JB Shuck made it 4-0 before the rain drops on the dugout seats had even had time to dry. Bumgarner threw 38 pitches in the inning. 

"They weren't all bad pitches but a lot of them were," he said. "You've got to give those guys credit. With two outs and nobody on, to score four, that's hard to do even in batting practice."

[RELATED: Marte, Gonzalez collide violently]

The first-inning blip was the only one for Bumgarner, who has always had a good time in this park. In his next five innings he allowed just two singles and struck out six. 

But the damage had been done. It was an uphill climb, and as they've done for most of a month now, the Giants didn't approach the summit.

Watch Pirates' Starling Marte, Erik Gonzalez collide violently vs. Giants

Watch Pirates' Starling Marte, Erik Gonzalez collide violently vs. Giants

There was a really scary moment in the top of the eighth inning between the Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Giants infielder Yangervis Solarte popped a ball up behind second base. Pirates center fielder Starling Marte and shortstop Erik Gonzalez converged on the ball and collided violently in center field.

Both players stayed down for several minutes. The Pirates' trainer raced out to check on both players and had to keep switching between Marte and Gonzalez since both were in considerable pain.

[RELATED: Duggar robs Musgrove of extra bases]

Gonzalez was able to walk off on his own power, but a cart was brought out to take Marte to the clubhouse.

The Pirates have yet to release an injury update on the players, but let's hope both players didn't suffer any type of serious injury.