Bochy chooses Hector Sanchez's bat over Belt's


Bochy chooses Hector Sanchez's bat over Belt's

ATLANTA -- It isn't so Hot-lanta at the moment at Turner Field. Thundershowers cooled it down to a manageable 75 degrees, and the Giants even managed to take batting practice amid a few fat drops.

The pregame news that most will find interesting was Giants manager Bruce Bochy's decision to keep Hector Sanchez in a battery with Barry Zito, and start Buster Posey at first base. In the past, Zito had Sanchez as a personal catcher in order to get regular rest for Posey's ankle and keep continuity with the rest of the staff.

But after hinting that Posey would finally work with Zito, Bochy decided to stick with Sanchez. The reason? He wants to keep the young switch-hitter's bat in the lineup.

I asked the obvious follow-up question. With Posey at first base and Brandon Belt on the bench, does Bochy prefer Sanchez's bat over Belt's?

"Yeah, I think that's fair to say, wouldn't you?" Bochy said. "He's coming off a pretty solid game. That's why I decided to go that way."

The Beltists will not be pleased. They'll point out that although Sanchez is coming off a four-hit game Saturday, Belt drew three walks in last week's Houston series to reach in four of 10 plate appearances. They'll also correctly point out that Belt's .360 OBP is third best on the team, and far better than Sanchez's .282 mark (weighed down by the fact he's walked twice all season.)

This continues to be a sticky situation. Bochy and the coaching staff know what Belt is capable of doing, but they also know that when he's going bad, he's a complete drain on the lineup. He doesn't just go 0 for 12 when he has a bad series. He goes 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts.

The other confounding thing is that Belt is mashing left-handers, which is counterintuitive. In general, it's the manager's job to look at matchups and try to pick spots when he thinks his players will succeed. Today, obviously, he has more confidence in Sanchez than Belt.

Hey, I just tell you what the manager says. Excuse me while I put on a Kevlar vest, just in case.

In other news, Bochy called the team's 4.85 road ERA, the third worst in the majors, "too extreme" when compared to their major league-best 2.31 ERA at home.

"We're not a club that will slug it with other teams," Bochy said. "We'll have to do better in the second half. That last road trip (to Washington and Pittsburgh) didn't help at all. Hopefully we're more acclimated, having just been East, and they know what to expect.

"But that's too dramatic, those numbers."

You know what's not dramatic? Rain delays. Hopefully the weather stays manageable the rest of the night.

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


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.