SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey could sense how focused Ty Blach was when he was inside the Giants clubhouse early Saturday morning. As the rookie left-hander continuously threw scoreless innings later that afternoon, Joe Panik had a simple thought: "This kid's not fazed. He's going about his business as he
SAN FRANCISCO -- Buster Posey could sense how focused Ty Blach was when he was inside the Giants clubhouse early Saturday morning. As the rookie left-hander continuously threw scoreless innings later that afternoon, Joe Panik had a simple thought: "This kid's not fazed. He's going about his business as he normally does."
From the dugout, Bruce Bochy said he felt like he was watching a kid who was completely locked in. In a must-win situation, the longtime manager matched a 25-year-old who had only made his first Major League start last Sunday against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. And Blach justified that decision by going punch for punch with the Los Angeles ace, tossing eight scoreless innings in a 3-0 win at AT&T Park that helped the club maintain a one-game lead over the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.
"That was one of the best pitching performances I've seen," said Bochy. "This kid having a month in the Major Leagues, what stage he was on, what was at stake, he just had great focus, great command. That's why he started for us, I had a lot of confidence in him."
Bochy admitted he didn't have the confidence that Blach might give him eight shutout innings, though. And why would he? Blach had only appeared in three Major League contests and lasted just three innings in his first big league start. It was why Bochy said "all hands" would be on deck in the bullpen before the game. If someone like right-hander Jeff Samardzija needed to come in, Bochy was ready to do that.
But it quickly became obvious that most of the Giants' bullpen would be getting the day off. After Blach induced an inning-ending double play in the second inning, the left-hander said he was able to go into "cruise mode." Blach retired 19 of the last 21 batters he faced, including a third inning in which he struck out three Dodgers batters looking.
"I think every time you go out there you just got to go out there and execute pitches," said Blach, who became the fourth Giants rookie pitcher to throw eight or more scoreless innings against the Dodgers in a win. "That's what we were able to do today."
Blach simply played his game Saturday. He utilized a signature quick tempo and said he never shook off Posey. And the Dodgers could rarely figure him out. The three hits the club managed off him were singles, one of which was Joc Pederson's bloop past the reach of Panik into right field in the eighth.
That only temporarily pushed Blach out of his rhythm. The left-hander was soon pumping his fist and sprinting back to the dugout, like he normally does, after striking out Kiké Hernandez.
"You know in a game like this we're one win away from clinching a Wild Card spot," said Blach. "Every out is important. And you get in that kind of situation and that emotion comes out."
What's more, Blach figured out Kershaw from the batter's box, recording a pair of singles. He also struck out Yasiel Puig in a perfect seventh inning, provoking possibly the loudest cry of the day from the AT&T Park stands.
After his dash to the dugout following a perfect 1-2-3 eighth inning, Blach realized what he'd accomplished.
"It was a pretty special moment," said Blach, whose parents were in attendance. "[Jake] Peavy came up to me and I was just thinking about all the work that I've put in over the years, since I was a little kid. You dream of playing in games like these. Being able to go out there with the season on the line, it was pretty exciting."
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.