Blach stuns Bumgarner with deep blast to dead center

Blach stuns Bumgarner with deep blast to dead center

SAN FRANCISCO -- The game's most powerful pitcher sat in his clubhouse chair late Thursday night and laced up his sneakers. As a couple of reporters approached, Madison Bumgarner looked up and smiled.

"I didn't think he had it in him," Bumgarner said.

Neither did anyone else.

Ty Blach stunned the A's and his own teammates in the fifth inning, hitting a three-run shot to dead center to add a thrilling moment to an 11-2 victory. Bruce Bochy said the dugout was stunned. Bumgarner repeated several times that, despite Blach regularly holding his own during batting practice, he didn't think the young lefty could hit it that far. In the on-deck circle, Denard Span gave Blach a look that he interpreted as, “Did you really just do that?”

He did, indeed. Blach’s homer was the first of his career, and it was no cheapie. In a night game at AT&T Park, Blach went to dead center and easily cleared the wall. He said this was his first homer since high school, which makes this easily the most impressive of Blach’s life -- he grew up in the thin air a few minutes from Coors Field. Blach became the first Giant since Bumgarner in August of 2015 to throw at least eight innings and hit a homer. 

“I knew I had it in there somewhere,” Blach said. “I just hadn’t found it for a while. It felt good to do it when it mattered.”

Blach's blast wasn’t just exhilarating. It was cathartic for his manager, who was visibly down earlier in the day after the Giants cut popular veteran Conor Gillaspie. Bochy was all smiles as Blach approached the dugout steps.

"He smoked it, didn't he?" Bochy said. "I think he stunned us all with how far he hit that. It was the Ty Blach show tonight."

A couple of newcomers played sweet background music. Jarrett Parker, starting for the first time since April 15, had three hits. After going 1 for 21 in his first stint in the big leagues, Ryder Jones picked up two hits in the first two innings and scored twice as the Giants jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

"After the second at-bat I was thinking to myself, 'Why did I make it so hard (the first time)?' But that's just the way baseball is," Jones said.

Blach didn't need any more support than the runs he drove in. His homer was the first three-run shot by a Giant at AT&T Park this season. He backed that with eight strong innings. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in four straight starts.

The Giants came into this season planning to get 200 innings from each of their top four starters. Blach wasn't on that list, but he's locked into a spot for 2018. It's hard to know what to expect from the rotation, but Bochy said Blach is more than capable of being a workhorse.

“Without question, he can handle it,” Bochy said. “He’s a strong kid. He’s very efficient, pounds the strike zone, gets ground balls. He’s not a big strikeout guy so you look up there and he’s in the seventh, eighth inning at around 100 pitches. He’s never had — knock on wood — any arm issues. I could see (200 innings) happening.”

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.

Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure


Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure

Bruce Bochy's minor offseason heart procedure went as planned, the team announced Friday afternoon. 

In a message passed along to beat reporters, Bochy said "the procedure went extremely well and I'm feeling better. I'm grateful for the doctors and want to thank everyone who has reached out with well wishes."

Bochy, 62, had an ablation procedure to help him deal with heart issues that have plagued him in recent years. The operation was his second of the year, but it was considered minor enough that it could be pushed back to the end of the season.

Cleveland's Terry Francona had a similar procedure this year and returned to manage, and Bochy has left no doubt about his future. 

“I don’t want anyone to think this has an effect on my work, or ability to work,” Bochy said last week. “This is something that is not uncommon.”