LOS ANGELES — Brandon Belt walked into the visitor’s locker room after Monday’s 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers wearing, as he put it, an orange “real, fake leather” wrestling championship belt.
It wasn’t the “Brandon belt” that Hunter Pence and Derek Holland whipped up for Belt’s Last Man All-Star vote push. Belt at first professed innocence about where it came from.
The belts — yes, there are two: one for a hitter, and one for a pitcher — were the brainchild of third baseman Evan Longoria, and they’re awarded to the top hitter and top pitcher in a given game.
“They just came today,” Longoria said, grinning widely. “I ordered them online.”
There wasn’t much to celebrate over San Francisco’s first series of the season — a 1-3 trip to San Diego — but despite a scintillating game by young Dodgers lefty Julio Urías, San Francisco scored a comeback win over the reigning National League champions, and wound up with a pair of heroes — Belt and closer Will Smith — in the type of game that they’ll likely play for most of the rest of the season, if the pitching rotation holds out.
“This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen it,” Belt said. “It says, ‘Baddest Man on the Field.’ Obviously, that’s me.”
The belts feature an etching of a photo of Oracle Park on a golden front plate, with “Baddest Man on the Field” on a gold banner atop it, flanked by a pair of golden badges that bear the San Francisco Giants logo. When Belt walked into his media scrum, after driving in three runs with a sixth-inning solo home run and a seventh-inning two-run double — both off of former Boston Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly — he took it off.
“I don’t want to look like an asshole,” he said, though he clearly relished the title. “I’ll probably take it in the shower with me.”
Along with his two big blows, Belt also made a stretching grab of a Longoria throw in the sixth, and then popped up out of a squat to make a leaping grab of a liner off the bat of Corey Seager to end the eighth.
Belt said in the split second before the ball got to him, he was “about 50-50” on whether he’d catch it.
“I’ve got a 32-inch vertical, so I knew. Jumping from a squat is not the same as doing the normal vertical jump. My legs are a lot wider,” Belt said. “Fortunately, it had a little top spin to it.”
Smith allowed one walk in the ninth, but retired the heart of the Dodgers order, ending the game with an emphatic strikeout of Chris Taylor for his second save of the season.
“He’s real sharp,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Can’t tell from where I’m at, and we’re wanting a couple of those pitches, but he’s right where the glove is, and he threw that way down in San Diego. Good job by Smitty. He’s got the poise, he’s got the stuff, so we’re comfortable with him out there.”