PHOENIX — The Giants will win some games this season because of Brandon Belt’s defense. On Wednesday, Belt felt his glove cost them one.
The first baseman, a Gold Glove finalist two years ago, clanked a grounder to first in the fifth inning, opening the floodgates for seven unanswered runs by the Diamondbacks. Belt was hard on himself after an 8-6 loss.
“It hopped up a little bit and I just got caught in-between,” he said. “I didn’t think I had time to get in front of the ball so I tried to backhand it. It changed that whole inning, changed that whole game. With our pitchers going the way they are, we had a good chance to win that ballgame.”
The pitcher who was cruising at the time, Matt Moore, didn’t place blame. Moore was ticked at himself for the previous two hitters, a double by Chris Owings and a walk of Paul Goldschmidt. After Belt’s error, Moore gave up an RBI double. He was charged with two more runs in the sixth.
“I’m never going to get mad at something that happened after I walked someone,” Moore said. “There was plenty of stuff well within my control.”
Moore took a 4-1 lead into the fifth. He had struck Goldschmidt out twice on six pitches earlier, but he felt his breaking ball flattened out as the night went on and the Diamondbacks started to take advantage. Their sneaky-talented lineup scored two in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
For a few minutes, that looked like it wouldn’t be enough. The Giants loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and got a run closer when Aaron Hill drew a walk. But Joe Panik struck out on a close 3-2 pitch inside and Chris Marrero flied out to center.
“I felt good in the eighth,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was swinging back our way. We had some good hitters there and they got out of it. We couldn’t get that one more hit to get us over the hump.’
--- Bochy said he’ll mix it up Thursday, with Hill starting at second against Robbie Ray and Nick Hundley possibly starting at catcher. Marrero will get a second start in left, and he’s still looking for his first hit. Jarrett Parker, the other half of the platoon, is 0-for-7 with five strikeouts.
“They’re probably pressing a little,” Bochy said. “Parker is late. I’ve never seen him this late. He’s late on his setup and his timing is off. You know, we’ve played three games. Let them get settled in here.
“I think Marrero is getting some good swings off but it’s fair to say Park is a little off with his timing. He’s in rush mode.”
It would make sense if either or both are anxious. Parker is getting his best shot at breaking in as a big league starter. Marrero is getting his first action in four years.
--- Early on, this looked like the Eduardo Nuñez Story. He singled in the second, stole second, and raced home when Joe Panik’s grounder was knocked down behind second.
“It shows you how fast he is and how electric he can be,” Bochy said. “That wasn’t really that close. He got to the bag so soon and (third base coach Phil Nevin) realized he caught it. He had no chance to stop (Nuñez). That’s how fast he is.”
At Chase Field, it’s a nice addition to the lineup. At Petco Park and AT&T Park and places like that, Nuñez is going to win a few games all by himself.
--- Hill made his first appearance in left in his 1,526th big league game. He looked fine on a line drive, and he was just fine out there this spring, too. The Giants don’t have many options in left with Denard Span, Michael Morse and Mac Williamson all hurt. If the two platoon guys keep struggling, maybe Hill gets a longer look. At the very least, it's a nice option off the bench considering how often Bochy double-switches.