Wednesday, August 09, 2017

All is not lost for the 2017 Giants

Ty Blach is the real deal -- a legit MLB starting pitcher who is now 8-7 for the Giants, now the third worst team in baseball with 45 wins. (Phils have 41, Chisox have 43).

And there's Sam Dyson, who has been closing far better than Mark Melancon. He got his 7th in eight chances tonight. 

Dave Flemming noted on the postgame show that Buster Posey had caught Dyson in the World Baseball Classic and said that the sinking fastball was the best he's ever caught -- which is saying something. He got DFAd by the Rangers, picked up by the Giants and somehow got straightened out. Posey hit a 3-run homer in the first, only the fifth the Giants have hit all year. Ty, Sam and Buster are the shining lights in a dismal season -- so bad that it would take a 25-game win streak to get to .500.

Here's the Mercury-News story, which notes that Blach closed down the Cubs for 3 innings in the 2016 NLDS too.

SAN FRANCISCO – Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto opened the season as one of baseball’s best and most accomplished 1-2 punches – a pair of aces that could match up against anyone in the major leagues.
Hey, dirt bike accidents and blisters can happen to anyone.
The Giants might be four months into a wasted season, but not all is lost. They discovered this summer that Ty Blach is for real. They discovered the rookie left-hander could even serve as ballast to a pitching staff that was ready to tip over.
There can be no doubt after Tuesday night’s 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs: Blach has been the Giants’ best starting pitcher this season.
All he does is throw strikes and then sprint off the field like a college freshman who was taught to always, always hustle. Blach (8-7) beat the defending World Series champions for the second time this season, holding the Cubs to two runs in seven innings. It marked the fifth consecutive time he completed at least seven frames. And unlike his previous start, Blach didn’t need to hit another three-run home run to aid his cause.
Buster Posey provided it, instead. His shot into the first row of the left field seats survived a replay review in the first inning as the Giants won for the third time in four games.
It’s never too late to get a little run going.
“It started in college,” said Blach, asked why he runs wind sprints from the mound to the dugout and back. “If you ever watch a Creighton game, everybody starts at the third base coaches’ box and sprints onto the field. I started trying to beat the position players. It sort of became a tradition, and I just stuck with it.”
Blach beat the Cubs for the second time this season, which is a feat considering the North Siders entered with a 19-7 record against left-handed starters – the best winning percentage in the major leagues. He also threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings against them in the NL Division Series last year.
The left-hander showed the same ability to stay one step ahead of the competition when he faced the formidable Dodgers for the third time this season on July 29 and spun a beauty against them.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Blach has added the ability to work up and down the strike zone, in addition to in and out. That’s given him another dimension as he has whittled his ERA down to 4.15 this season.
But it is more than that. In a year when a record amount of contact is resulting in home runs, the pitcher with the highest contact rate also has the lowest home run rate.
Blach has allowed just 10 home runs in 128 innings. His 0.70 home runs allowed per nine innings is the lowest figure among National League pitchers. And yet Blach’s 0.48 strikeouts per inning is the lowest ratio among all major league pitchers.
What has been his secret?
“Hitters are able to leverage pitches they can get extended on,” Blach said. “It’s just having the understanding to know how to keep them off balance.”
Posey had been out of balance. He was 1 for 17 on the homestand entering Tuesday and missed several shots to knock in runs a night earlier in a loss to the Cubs and Jake Arrieta. But he connected against left-hander Jose Quintana for his first home run in 76 at-bats.
It was Posey’s first home run since July 14 and his first at AT&T Park in almost three months. He had hit just two other homers at China Basin this season, the previous one coming on May 15 against the Dodgers. The other was his May 12 walk-off shot to end a 17-inning epic over the Cincinnati Reds.
He came up in an RBI spot because Gorkys Hernandez led off the first inning with a single and Hunter Pence reached on an error by Cubs shortstop Javier Baez.
Blach managed to help his cause, too. He lined an RBI single in the fourth inning that scored Brandon Crawford that gave the Giants a 4-0 lead.
The Cubs managed to chip away. They combined two singles, a sacrifice bunt and a ground out to score a run in the fifth inning. Then hot-hitting Willson Contreras and Ian Happ hit consecutive doubles in the sixth. Blach managed to strand Happ by getting a pair of ground outs.
But the Giants found those tack-on runs that have eluded them so often this season. Kelby Tomlinson walked, Pablo Sandoval hit a pinch single and the Giants scored on Joe Panik’s ground out in the seventh.
Then Posey stole his fifth base of the season before scoring on Brandon Crawford’s single up the middle. Posey has five steals this season, including his first two-steal game Sunday against the Diamondbacks.
The Cubs obviously scouted that game, since they held Posey on first base in the eighth. It didn’t matter, nor did Baez’s lightning fast snap tag at second base. Posey stole the base anyway after the play survived a video review.
“I thought he got me,” Posey said “I’m a little faster than I thought.”
Crawford followed by stealing his third base of the season. Did Posey believe that Crawford’s attempt was about more than getting into scoring position?
“Yes I do, 100 percent, because I already talked smack to him about it,” Posey said, smiling. “And I told (Denard) Span, `I’m tied with you now.’ So he needs to step it up.”
Those runs provided a bit more breathing room for the Giants bullpen. Hunter Strickland limited the damage to a run after Panik made an error on a potential double-play smash in the eighth. Then Sam Dyson made quick work of the ninth to record his seventh save in eight chances.


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