Giants notes: Strictly business with Bochy

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Giants notes: Strictly business with Bochy

Aug. 5, 2011

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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy was so loose before Thursday's game against the Phillies that when there was a brief lull during his daily dugout skull session with the media he actually broke out into a little chair-dance.You know the chair-dance, right? You do it in your car when a particular song moves you. You break into a half-body gig, maybe even bite your lower lip for emphasis.That was Bochy on Thursday. On Friday? No chair-dancing. Strictly business.And understandably so. Cliff Lee of the Phillies on Thursday night christened the four-game series with such complete dominance from the mound that the Giants never seemed to have a chance, and Friday's game brought another look at Philadelphia rookie Vance Worley, who rolled the defending world champs last week in the City of Brotherly Love. Countering Worley on Friday at AT&T Park: Jonathan Sanchez, in his first big-league appearance since June 24. Sanchez, as we all know, is a question mark any time he takes the mound. This time, the first time he's faced the Phils since his mental meltdown in Game 6 of the 2010 National League Championship Series, was an even bigger question mark, whether Bochy wanted to admit it or not.
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He didn't, of course. Bochy is beloved in the clubhouse because he always has the backs of his guys, and there's nothing wrong with that. But the short, clipped answers the skipper offered in response to virtually every question thrown his way as his players stretched in front of the home dugout suggested that he was feeling a certain sense of urgency as the series headed into the weekend.Asked about Hunter Pence, who has yet to lose in a Phillies uniform since coming over in a pre-trade-deadline deal, Bochy seemed ready to roll his eyes, knowing the question had as much to do with Carlos Beltran as Pence."He's a quality right-handed bat, and that's what they were looking for, so sure, he makes them that much better," Bochy said. "It's along the lines of getting departed free agent Jayson Werth back."On the struggles of his left and center fielders -- Nate Schierholtz, Cody Ross, Andres Torres and Aaron Rowand -- Bochy was a little more expansive, noting how important Torres' speed element is to the lineup, and he conceded that the collective funk makes writing out the lineup a "tough decision every day."Looking to spin something positive, Bochy found an opening when first baseman Aubrey Huff's name was mentioned. The Giants optioned rookie first basemanoutfielder Brandon Belt to Triple-A Fresno on Thursday, and it was an unpopular move to say the least. Bochy, though, said he likes the way Huff has been swinging the bat of late, and the numbers back him up.Huff was 5-for-15 on the homestand through four games and was batting .341 (14-for-41) over his past 13 games."I think he's swinging with more confidence," Bochy said. "We got him a little break last weekend in Cincinnati, with Brandon getting in there for a couple of games, and it helped. I think Huff was close to out of gas."No real news came out of Bochy's session, other than the suggestion that right-handed hitters Rowand and Ross are likely to start in the outfield Saturday against lefty Cole Hamels, and that Mark DeRosa might get the call at first base.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.