On the eve of the first Major League Baseball game played atAT&T Park in 2012, the focus was not on the field, but on Matt Cain.After receiving a five-year contract extension worth a guaranteed 112.5million from 2013 through 2017, Matt Cain was flanked by general manger BrianSabean, CEO Larry Baer and manager Bruce Bochy at a press conference Mondayafternoon.This is the way its supposed to turn out, Sabean said. We love him and heloves us.Before the extension, Cain was set to hit free agency after the 2012 season,but is now guaranteed to keep his title as the longest tenured active Giant forat least another six seasons.Were extremely excited about knowing were going to be here through 2017,Cain said. Cains contract also includes a full no-trade clause, which the right-handersaid he appreciated because it shows him that the Giants want him to stay inSan Francisco.After watching Cain throw over 200 innings in each of the past five years,Sabean said there was no question about the Giants desire to retain their first-rounddraft pick in 2002.This kid has literally gotten better each year, Sabean said.Bochy expressed relief that his teams strength the starting rotation wouldstay in tact for the time being.We have one of the elite pitchers in the game, Bochy said of Cain. To havehim another five years, we know were very fortunate.Bochy also commended Cain on his leadership skills and ability to move past thenumerous starts in which the Giants have failed to score runs behind him,leading to his 69-73 career record.Hes a leader that leads by example, Bochy said. Hes been through toughluck with the wins and losses but never points a finger.Sabean said that vice president of baseball operations BobbyEvans represented the team in negotiations, while he dubbed himself The Wizardof Oz.You just keep grinding to that ultimate figure, Sabean said. But it wasntcontentious. There was no knock down, drag out about it.
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.
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.