Blach indicates he’s set for more
Saturday, Oct. 1
SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach created an indelible and priceless memory last Sunday at San Diego’s Petco Park in his first Major League start, something worth sharing with his grandchildren or golfing buddies in retirement.
Blach, who gets his second big league start Saturday against the Dodgers, probably will gain more appreciation for what he did as the years pass. If he wants to fully understand the magnitude of his accomplishment sooner, he can just approach teammate and fellow pitcher Matt Cain and compare notes.
Blach didn’t come close to earning a winning decision against the Padres. He lasted only three innings in a 4-3 loss to San Diego. But he engaged in a riveting confrontation that deepened his experience and savvy, which he can draw upon Saturday and beyond.
Blach ended the second inning by striking out Wil Myers, San Diego’s All-Star first baseman, on 14 pitches. That’s about three at-bats worth of deliveries, and it accelerated Blach’s pitch count, which in turn prematurely drove him from the game. Blach already knows that he’s better off trying to coax hitters to tap the ball harmlessly toward a defender after two or three pitches.
Nevertheless, Blach is still trying to establish himself. He needs to show people that he won’t back down easily — or at all. His confrontation with Myers was Exhibit A in his case to validate his skill and toughness.
“I’m just trying to attack,” Blach said. “Any time you get to those battles, you want to be the one that comes out on top. Try to get some momentum going for your team.”
Cain had a similar experience in his Major League debut on Aug. 29, 2005. Those who witnessed it won’t forget it. Facing Colorado’s Todd Helton, then considered one of the Major Leagues’ premier hitters, the 20-year-old Cain also fired 14 pitches before retiring the five-time All-Star on a fly to medium-deep left field in his fifth and final inning. Helton fouled off nine of Cain’s pitches during their showdown.
“That was a cool moment for Helton and me because we went on to face each other so much,” Cain said.
By the time Helton retired following the 2013 season, he had amassed 60 at-bats against Cain, collecting 12 hits for a .200 batting average.
These statistics say nothing about the profound respect that Cain and Helton developed for each other. Cain will always treasure an autographed jersey that he received from the former first baseman. The inscription reads, “To one of the best I’ve faced.” Said Cain, “Coming from a potential Hall of Famer, that’s awesome! Those are moments you’re going to enjoy.”
Perhaps Blach will build his own friendly rivalries if his career progresses. He may have already begun this process.
“He’s probably going to face Wil a ton,” Cain said.
— Chris Haft