Northern California gets shut out in Pacific Northwest

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Northern California gets shut out in Pacific Northwest

Nitesh Dutt
CSNBayArea.com

In what was being called the biggest card in the UFC this year, each and every fight truly delivered and gave fans what they wanted. For Northern California fans, the night was not as memorable.

Things didn’t start off well for Northern California on the main card, San Jose’s Mike “Quick” Swick became victim to his own nickname. In a battle of two welterweights hoping to throw their names into title contention, Matt Brown came out looking like the better fighter.

The first-round started off slow as both fighters spent the first few minutes feeling each other out with solid jabs. Brown was able to score a takedown two minutes into the bout and used his jiu-jitsu to gain a quick upper-hand. He had Swick in some early trouble in the round, but AKA’s Swick was able to get out of a guillotine and triangle choke. It was clear, even after five minutes, that Swick was slightly outmatched and sluggish.

It was much of the same in the second round for Brown, who was able to make “quick” work of Swick. Brown landed left then right to drop Swick 2:31 into round two. The bout lived up to the expectations and did finish in quick fashion, but it was in a way that Nor Cal fans were not hoping for.

The hopes and dreams of Nor Cal MMA fans on this night were now in the hands of Stockton’s Nate Diaz.

Diaz, the younger brother of UFC Welterweight Nick, challenged Benson Henderson for Henderson’s UFC lightweight championship in Seattle. This bout was hyped as a match-up of the top two lightweights in the world, not just the UFC. When the lights hit and the action took place, one lightweight simply outclassed and out-fought the other.

Right from the first bell Henderson was in-control. He used his wrestling, kicks and every skill that he has to show he was the better fighter. And to prove, that there is not one fighter near his level.

Fighting in front of his hometown crowd of Seattle, the one they call “Smooth” delivered his best performance since joining the UFC. Even though the bout went the distance, it was not as close as one would imagine. Benson ended up winning via unanimous decision, outscoring Diaz 50-43, 50-45 and 50-45.

As for Diaz, who was fighting in his first title fight, was staying true to form. At a certain point in the fifth round, while he was already thoroughly beaten, Diaz began to antagonize Henderson by tapping himself on the chin asking to be hit. It was a classic Diaz moment and left the Gracie Fight Team with zero UFC titles.

Once the final second passed, Henderson stared down Diaz and sent a message to him and the rest of the lightweight division. He’s growing in each fight and will let his actions inside the octagon do the talking.

Nitesh Dutt is a Productions Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. You can follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt

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.