Giants

Bruce Bochy reveals favorite MLB Opening Day memory as Giants manager

Bruce Bochy reveals favorite MLB Opening Day memory as Giants manager

Days before the start of the 2018 season, then-manager Bruce Bochy still was looking for someone to toe the rubber for the Giants. 

In a freak injury near the end of spring training, team ace Madison Bumgarner broke his left pinkie finger on a line drive hit right back at him. Jeff Samardzija was out of the mix after straining his right pectoral, too. Johnny Cueto also wasn't an option after starting an exhibition game against the A's. 

With his top-three arms unable to go, Bochy turned to a 27-year-old left-hander with only one full season under his belt. In came Ty Blach, and his outing couldn't have gone any better.

In what wound up being a day Bochy still smiles at, Blach threw five shutout innings on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 1-0 win. The Giants' lone run came on a Joe Panik solo shot against Clayton Kershaw. 

"I'd say that's probably my best Opening Day, because we had to scramble there for our Opening Day starter," Bochy said Thursday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "Out of nowhere we throw Ty Blach out there and he just threw a beauty.

"So that's probably my favorite moment on Opening Day because of who Ty is." 

Host Brian Murphy brought up the Giants' blowout 12-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day in 2016. To Bochy, though, nothing tops 2018 in his 13 years as the Giants' manager.

"The one-nothing games, those are special -- especially on Opening Day," Bochy said. "And of course, ya know, against the Dodgers. That's a lot different than the Brewers." 

[RELATED: Relive best Opening Day moments in Giants' storied history]

Blach went 6-7 with a 4.25 ERA over 47 games -- 13 starts -- in 2018. The lefty pitched two games for the Giants last season before the Baltimore Orioles signed him off waivers. He went 1-3 with an 11.25 ERA while making five starts for the Orioles. 

No matter what happens next for Blach, he always will have Opening Day 2018. And on what was supposed to be Opening Day this season before the coronavirus pandemic put baseball on pause, Bochy couldn't help but marvel at that moment.

Ranking Buster Posey's best walk-off moments throughout Giants career

Ranking Buster Posey's best walk-off moments throughout Giants career

Programming note: Relive Buster Posey's walk-off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, March 28, at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

There haven't been as many big hits in recent years, or even opportunities for them, but for most of his career Buster Posey has been the Giant you want at the plate when you need to get a runner home in the late innings. 

Posey has a .312 career average with runners in scoring position and an OPS of nearly .900. He hits .306 in what Baseball-Reference calls "high leverage" situations, and while the bat has slowed a bit over time, he used to handle elite closers as well as anyone. Posey has five hits in nine career at-bats against Aroldis Chapman and is 8-for-23 against Kenley Jansen. 

Posey has six career walk-off hits and one walk-off walk, and tonight we're showing one of them -- last year's game-winning single against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. To get you ready, we decided to rank Posey's game-winners:

7. Walk against Toronto Blue Jays' Ryan Tepera (May 11, 2016)

The degree of difficulty here is the lowest, because with one out and the bases loaded, Posey didn't need to do much against a pitcher who already had walked one, hit one and thrown a wild pitch. Tepera walked Posey on four pitches. 

It's not a walk-off hit, but we're including it here for one simple reason: 

6. Single off Chicago Cubs' James Norwood (July 11, 2018)

This one had the potential to be much higher. With two outs in the 13th, Posey hit a ball that had a shot to be the rare right-handed homer to the arcade. It officially went down as just a single after banging off the base of the wall and bringing Brandon Belt home from second. 

A big hit, but there's not enough here to rank it ahead of homers or a game-winner against the Dodgers. The video is a fun reminder, though, that Posey hit behind Andrew McCutchen for a few months.

5. Single off Dodgers' Kenley Jansen (June 11, 2016)

You could go either way with this one. Posey gets bonus points for winning a game off Jansen, who had a 1.82 ERA that season and took just one loss other than this one. He also did it in front of Steve Kerr, who sat near the dugout throughout a game that took exactly four hours. 

But we're ranking this here because you can't ignore that the ball -- while hit hard -- was very nearly an inning-ending double play. That bumps it down the list.

4. Single off Dodgers' Pedro Baez (May 1, 2019)

Posey has three career walk-offs against the Dodgers and we're tempted to move this one up the list and into the top three because it was off of Baez, who costs Giants fans at least an hour of their lives every season with his slow pace. This one also clinched a series win against the Dodgers. 

But when you watch it -- and it airs Saturday on NBC Sports Bay Area -- the play is just as much about Steven Duggar as it is about Posey. It's a hell of a swing to be able to yank a 97 mph fastball on the outer edge, but the ball left the bat at just 85 mph. Chris Taylor made a 95 mph throw to the plate that was on line, but Duggar rounded third perfectly and used his speed to slide in just in time. 

3. Home run off Colorado Rockies' Juan Nicasio (August 27, 2014)

Man, it's hard to beat a walk-off homer in a night game at Oracle Park. This one was soaring, too, so the sellout crowd had plenty of time to rise and appreciate it. This was Posey's 18th homer of 2014, the last season in which he reached 20 homers. 

Posey's second career walk-off came a night after Madison Bumgarner lost a perfect game in the eighth inning and a night before Yusmeiro Petit set the MLB record by retiring a 46th straight batter, a stretch that went back over a month. The win gave Bruce Bochy 1,600 in the big leagues, moving him past Tommy Lasorda. The 2014 Giants were starting to roll. 

"A lot of us know what this team is capable of if we do get into the playoffs," Posey said that night. "This is a fun time of the year."

2. Home run off Dodgers' Ronald Belisario (May 3, 2013)

Bochy had Gregor Blanco warming up heading into the bottom of the ninth inning on this night, and he was ready to send the speedy outfielder in for Posey if the reigning MVP led off the ninth by reaching base. All Blanco ultimately had to do was run to join the crowd at the plate.

Posey's first career walk-off was a memorable one, and it came on a Friday night against the Dodgers in front of a raucous crowd. The homer was Posey's fourth of the season and raised his OPS to .900. A night later, backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz hit a solo shot off Brandon League in the 10th to give the Giants back-to-back walk-offs. The Giants completed the sweep that Sunday to improve to 19-12, but it all fell apart in June and July.

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready after missing Opening Day]

1. Home run off Cincinnati Reds' Robert Stephenson (May 12, 2019)

The record books say Posey's third career walk-off blast came on May 12, but it was actually May 13 by the time he touched the plate. The solo shot came at 1:43 in the morning after five hours and 28 minutes of baseball, and despite the fact that he caught all 17 innings, Posey managed to smoke it 431 feet. 

"That's dad strength," he said the next morning, smiling. 

Posey's walk-off was the latest by inning in franchise history, and there was more relief the game finally was over than there was excitement about what he had done:

The ultimate celebration -- both hands spread straight out as he looked to the sky -- was a great one, in large part because it was immediately followed by young Christian Arroyo getting clocked by Jeff Samardzija in the scrum at home plate:

D-backs troll Giants over Madison Bumgarner signing, 2017 Opening Day

D-backs troll Giants over Madison Bumgarner signing, 2017 Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner left the Giants for the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency this offseason, and in an ironic twist, MLB aired the 2017 Opening Day game between the two teams Thursday.

On April 2, 2017, the Giants sent Bumgarner to the mound in an effort to win their fourth straight Opening Day.

Bumgarner had an incredible day on the mound and at the plate. In addition to striking out 11 batters in seven innings, the Giants ace also belted two home runs.

But Mark Melancon, making his Giants' debut, blew the save in the bottom of the ninth.

With the 2020 season on hold, MLB decided to re-air memorable Opening Day games Thursday, and MLB Network sent out a tweet to promote the broadcast of that game.

The D-backs' social media team responded with this tweet.

Giants fans already are hurting over the loss of Bumgarner to a division rival. They don't need his new team to rub it in.

[RELATED: Zaidi doesn't regret holding onto Bumgarner]

Hopefully for the Giants, they can get the last laugh whenever the 2020 season starts.