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.”