Giants spring training Day 23: Right-handed bats make noise vs Dodgers

Giants spring training Day 23: Right-handed bats make noise vs Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tuesday’s lineup appeared to be an open challenge from Bruce Bochy to all the right-handed hitters in camp trying to win an opening day job. You’re facing Clayton Kershaw. Go make your case. 

Kershaw threw three innings against the non-roster-invitee-heavy lineup and … allowed zero hits. So, there is still no correct answer to that quiz, but the spring competition heated up considerably once the world’s best pitcher departed. 

Jae-gyun Hwang hit a solo homer in the fifth after earlier saving two runs for Matt Moore with a diving stop down the line. Moore was appreciative, and he said a former teammate who is currently playing in South Korea said he’s grateful that he no longer has to face Hwang. 

“He’s opened up some eyes," Bochy said. "You get somebody from Korea, you can look at video or the scouting report, but until you see them firsthand, you don’t get to appreciate the player.”

Mac Williamson hit his second opposite-field homer in two games. Chris Marrero got into the action an inning later, clearing the home bullpen with his third homer of the spring.

“Mac has really turned it up a notch,” Bochy said. “And Marrero, he’s had a great spring. It’s not going to be easy (to make roster decisions).”

Another right-handed hitter made sure he would be front and center in Bochy’s mind on the long ride back to Scottsdale. Trevor Brown made his Giants debut at second base, playing four innings after Joe Panik’s departure. Brown, who was drafted as an infielder, is trying to add some versatility in case the Giants decide to keep three catchers.

His day as a utility man started innocently, with a grounder up the middle in the seventh that was flipped to Christian Arroyo for an inning-ending force. With two outs in the ninth, Jose Miguel Fernandez hit a smash toward right that Brown knocked down with a diving stop. He threw Fernandez out to end the game. 

“How ‘bout that play,” Bochy said, smiling. “That’s a heck of a play by Brownie. He’s been getting ground balls there. We’re going to take a look at it. He looks comfortable out there.”

The franchise has never lost a game when Brown gets time at second base. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants have won two straight. Break up the Giants. Bochy was pleased with a pitching staff that’s really starting to come around, and on Tuesday it was led by Moore. You can read about him here. Tyler Beede pitched two more shutout innings, keeping his spring ERA at a tidy 0.00. 

STOCK RISING: Jose Dominguez, the former Dodger, pounded the bottom of the strike zone in a perfect ninth. In 3 1/3 spring innings, he has given up just one hit. 

“I really like the way he’s throwing the ball,” Bochy said. “He’s getting a lot of called strikes. The ball is jumping that well out of his hand right now.”

ICYMI: I wrote a feature about Conor Gillaspie’s defense and also sat down with him for an interview that ran on our Giants podcast. You can stream that here or download it on iTunes here. 

 

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.