Ty Blach was already the best part of the 2017 season. This was supposed to be the season that Madison Bumgarner finished in the top-three of the Cy Young voting, that Joe Panik was going to reclaim his All-Star form, that the Giants contended, that everything tasted like tangerines instead of scabs. Instead, the best part of the season was the guy who wasn’t even in the rotation at the beginning of the year.
Well, him and Buster Posey. It’s a tie.
But we’ll start with Blach, who reminded us all that he does everything well. He doesn’t have the best command or control that I’ve ever seen ,but he has sweet command and control. He isn’t even the best hitting pitcher on his own team, but he’s a pretty sweet hitting pitcher. He might not ever win a Gold Glove, but he’ll have games that will make me think, “Huh. Wonder if he’ll ever win a Gold Glove.”
He’s been a joy to watch. While I’ve been around long enough to know that there are no guarantees that Blach will be around forever and ever and ever — I’m old enough to remember when Chris Heston was on the team — he’s been a treat to watch. This was the fifth straight start in which he’s thrown more than seven innings and his 11th overall, which makes him tied for sixth in baseball. The pitchers who have more didn’t join their rotations at the end of April, either.
You think of Jeff Samardzija as the guy who adds value because of the innings the bullpen doesn’t pitch, and that’s true. But Blach has as many seven-plus inning starts this season, and he’s been better about keeping runs off the board. That’s probably because Blach currently has the lowest home run rate in the National League. The sinker sinks. It’s kept low in the zone. It’s doing work, this sinker. Because of the sinking.
The platonic ideal of a Ty Blach inning was in the top of the first. He got a strikeout without missing a bat. He allowed a doink hit because when you allow more contact than most pitchers, you’re going to allow more doink hits than most pitchers. And he got the groundball double play immediately because that’s what he was pitching for, and he’s good at his job.
That’s not the inning he’ll have every time. It’s the inning you expect when you’re in a good mood and happy to be watching the Giants. Which isn’t often this year.
Just when Blach is pitching, for the most part.
And hitting. Don’t forget the hitting. That’s the easiest path to becoming a folk hero. That and five innings of relief in a Game 7. I’m guessing we’ll get both from Blach, but I’m drunk on win juice.
Also when Buster Posey is playing and doing good things! Which is most of the time, even if it’s easy to take for granted when the Giants haven’t won more than six games this year (this was seven). Posey’s main contribution was hitting that rarest of unicorns, a three-run homer. He’s the first non-Blach member of the Giants to do that at AT&T Park this year, and he picked a fine time.
LET’S FIRE UP THE LEADERBOARD:
Three-run home runs, 2017
29. St. Louis Cardinals (9)
30. San Francisco Giants (5)
COMING FOR YOU, CARDINALS. COMING FOR YOU.
very slowly, but still, look out
Jose Quintana, the starter for the Cubs, has had homer problems this year. It’s probably concerning the Cubs a little bit, just like it concerned the White Sox a little bit, but it’s not a huge concern, I would imagine. Just one of the perils of pitching in 2017. Those low-seamed cork globes seem to be flying out of the yard these days, they sure do.
Except the Giants aren’t usually the ones who benefit from whatever is going on around baseball right now. They hit long fly balls that look like home runs and are caught on the warning track. So I’m supposed to believe that with the old baseballs they would have looked like home runs that were caught 30 feet in front of the warning track? I call shenanigans, and I’m setting up a YouTube channel to discuss the conspiracy as soon as I finish this post.
The Denver airport and the humidor. Follow the trail. Where does it lead?
The homer was just Posey’s second since June 22, and he needed every last seam to ... not ... air-stop the air ... look, I don’t know the technical explanation, but he needed every last inch. Posey was hitting .278/.380/.365 during that 38-game stretch, which is mighty fine for a catcher. It’s just not the Posey most of us are hoping to get.
As is, Posey had the big hit, and Ty Blach pitched a brilliant game. You know what that means.
I knew this game would be good as soon as they announced the starting pitcher and first baseman— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) August 9, 2017
That it was destined to be
Yeah. I’m using it for every successful Blach-Buster game. And you can’t stop me. You can only stop reading. Go on. I dare you.
please come back
Miguel Gomez reminds us that we can’t have nice things, of course. I still have no idea what he pulled or ruptured or sproinged, but I was enjoying watching him, even if only because he was something new and fresh.
On the other hand, Pablo Sandoval — “Older Miguel Gomez,” as he’s probably known in the clubhouse — had a pinch-hit single. That was some weird symmetry that reminds us that we’re very much in 2017 and might not make it to 2018.
Just in case, though, the Giants can remind us every week or so that we might actually want to watch them in 2018. A Blach start with a Posey assist reminds us that the mushroom cloud might not be so bright that we gotta wear shades. I’ll take that.