Photo credit: San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt (9) is congratulated after hitting a home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
By Ben Leonard
SAN FRANCISCO—When home plate umpire Doug Eddings rung him up to end the game, Brandon Belt didn’t bother holding back.
Immediately after Raisel Iglesias pounded a fastball away to close a 6-3 Reds’ win, the 6-foot-5 Texan turned his head and started screaming at Eddings while everyone else walked off the field. More than 20 minutes later in the clubhouse, Belt was still fuming, even in the midst of a hot streak, accusing Eddings of trying to bring the game to a quick end.
“Multiple times, I’ve heard that guy say or insinuate that he wants to get through the game fast,” Belt said. “Then he makes calls like that that I can’t imagine he thought was a strike. You’ve got to wonder.”
Belt wouldn’t go into details of what Eddings said or when, but said Eddings was one of a couple bad apples of umpires in a league with many quality officials.
“You have a feeling that one or two of them just want to get the game over with, whether through it’s what they say or what they do,” Belt said. “I’m not sure if they’re connected or not, but if you don’t want it to be, then don’t say it.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman, crew chief Joe West declined to comment, saying, “I don’t comment on postgame comments and things said in anger.”
Belt’s rage ultimately made no difference in the outcome, as his Giants (22-22) fell just short of a sweep of lowly Cincinnati (15-29). The first baseman finished the day 2-for-5 with a solo home run as part of a 9-for-18 tear in his last four games, but a four-run Reds’ first inning was ultimately too much for San Francisco to overcome.
Rookie Andrew Suarez looked like he wasn’t going to make it out of the first after allowing the first four hitters of the game to score, including three on former Giant Adam Duvall’s homer. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy thought the slight left-hander was trying too hard to power his way through hitters in the early going—and Suarez agreed.
“My adrenaline was pumping too much in the first,” Suarez said. “After those first four runs, I just tried to settle in and go as deep as I could.’
Considering it took him 29 pitches to get his first out, Suarez did go deep, rebounding to give the Giants six innings and allowing just one more run—an unearned run after a passed ball from Nick Hundley in the fifth. The 25-year-old gave up just three hits after the first inning.
The Giants scratched and clawed their way back into the game, but couldn’t get the big hit to take the lead. San Francisco quickly responded with two runs in the first on an RBI double from Andrew McCutchen and a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly against ex-Mets’ ace Matt Harvey.
The ‘Dark Knight’s’ mystique has been all but defiled, but that didn’t stop him from bearing down when it counted. He found himself in a mess with two runners in scoring position and no outs in the second, but worked his way through the inning unscathed. Despite giving up the solo shot to Belt, Harvey limited the damage and kept Cincinnati ahead for good.
Harvey finished just four innings and gave up three runs, but struck out the side to end his day and stem the tide for the Reds to pull away and avoid a sweep. Three Reds relievers combined for five innings of scoreless, five-hit ball to cap off Harvey’s start and send Cincinnati home on a high note.
A former All-Star, Harvey found his way to Cincinnati after struggling mightily since 2016 and weathering numerous off-the-field incidents—the most recent of which reportedly partying the night before a start. Bochy was impressed with his velocity—Harvey touched 95 mph at times on the radar gun—and thought his stuff was still there, but thought his command was not quite as sharp as he had seen before.
“But he’s healthy. You look at that more than anything,” Bochy said. “He just needs to get out there and pitch.”
The Giants will welcome the Colorado Rockies (23-20) to AT&T Park for the first time this season for a four-game set beginning Thursday. Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.94) is slated to square off against the Rockies’ Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.12) to open the series.