Ty Blach was headed for another one of those days.
Before half the fans had a chance to reach their seats at AT&T Park on Wednesday afternoon, the Giants’ lefty had already surrendered a pair of runs and committed a costly throwing error.
Thirteen hours after San Francisco completed a 14-inning walkoff win over the Colorado Rockies to earn its first series victory in its last eight tries, Blach was on the hill, and it looked like the Rockies were ready to feast.
Before Blach recorded an out, Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado had already roped a two-run single into right center field that looked like a sign of things to come for a Colorado squad hoping to snap a seven-game losing skid.
Five days after Blach was pounded in what Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy called his worst outing of the season, an 11-4 loss to the New York Mets, Blach looked restless on a day the San Francisco bullpen needed a break.
After Arenado gave the Rockies an early edge, though, Blach settled down, gathered himself, and recorded 15 straight outs without allowing a Colorado player past second base.
“It was just trying to stay in the moment, execute one pitch at a time,” Blach said of his sudden turnaround. “Not trying to get ahead of myself, not worry about what had happened, just trying to get outs, make pitches and we were able to do that and settle in and get into a rhythm.”
In Tuesday evening’s 14-inning affair, Bochy needed six different relievers to shove eight innings of scoreless ball against a potent Rockies’ lineup. So on Wednesday, the Giants’ skipper needed Blach to make like Jerry Rice, and go deep.
“Really, a gutty effort he (Blach) gave us,” Bochy said. “He wasn’t quite as sharp with his command but he hurt himself more than anything, his command was worse throwing to first base more than anywhere, but we’re trying to squeeze every out of him because of our bullpen situation and boy, he gave us just a great effort out there.”
Blach didn’t have his best stuff on Wednesday, and he didn’t field his position cleanly, but he pitched into the top half of the seventh, and gave the Giants’ lineup an opportunity to come from behind and steal their third straight win.
“I think this game is about picking each other up and that’s what we did this entire series is guys picked each other up and it was a great team effort today,” Blach said. “Everybody contributed and it was an awesome win for us.”
A day after the bench got so tight on numbers that Bochy called on Blach as a pinch runner, Blach saved the legs of his bullpen, as three different Giants’ relievers combined to throw just 36 pitchers to record the final eight outs.
With Sam Dyson and Cory Gearrin all but unavailable after combining for five shutout innings in Tuesday evening’s win, and closer Mark Melancon headed to the disabled list with a pronator strain, Blach knew the onus was on him to work late into the game.
So after a start that was as rocky as the mountainous terrain Bud Black’s Colorado team calls home, Blach’s ability to rebound and provide San Francisco with a quality outing was a critical X-factor in the Giants’ victory.
“You don’t really try to think about that, you just try to stay in the moment and execute one pitch at a time,” Blach said. “If you try to get ahead of yourself and think, hey I got to get deep, that’s when things spin out of control. So you just try to stay in the moment, not worry about pitch counts, not worry about what was going on, just trying to execute one at a time.”
Though Wednesday’s win will be remembered as the day 29-year-old South Korean infielder Jae-Gyun Hwang made his Major League debut and clubbed a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the sixth to lift the Giants to victory, San Francisco never would have been in position to win without the resilience of Blach.
While it was Hwang who received a well-deserved beer shower after the Giants’ 5-3 win, it was Blach who arrived with the proverbial bottle opener on Wednesday.