OAKLAND — Ty Blach started a Double-A season opener in New Britain, Connecticut and a Triple-A season-opener in Salt Lake City. The next stop opportunity is just a tiny bit different.
Against the reigning National League champions.
With Clayton Kershaw on the other side.
“It’s just a game,” Blach said Sunday morning, smiling. “I’ve pitched against him twice in my career and it’s been a good game both times. It’ll be good to take on that challenge.”
The Giants believe he’s up for it, but truthfully, that’s not why Blach is starting game one. This is no knock on Blach, who has a 2.23 ERA in seven career appearances against the Dodgers, but the Giants were low on options after Jeff Samardzija and Madison Bumgarner went down on back to back days this week.
Johnny Cueto was already lined up to start Sunday’s game in Oakland, giving him only three days rest before opening day, and the Giants decided not to move Cueto up to Saturday’s game because management feared cold and wet conditions in Sacramento. With Cueto, Derek Holland and Chris Stratton lined up for the Bay Bridge Series already, that left Blach.
“It’s the simplest (solution),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Instead of disrupting three guys, Ty falls into that slot. It just keeps it easier for everybody.”
Bochy challenged Blach and other young pitchers this spring, saying it was time for the next generation to take over. He sort of did the same Sunday.
“It’s unfortunate what happened (to Bumgarner and Samardzija), but you look at and the only good side is guys are getting an opportunity,” he said. “Somehow, someway, we have to pitch our tails off to soften the loss of Bum and Samardzija.”
Blach said he won’t feel added pressure, pointing out that he pitched in postseason games as a rookie. Still, there is added significance. After Blach was given the news Saturday, he called his parents and wife. They’re all flying out to Los Angeles to be at Dodger Stadium.
“Obviously the circumstances are tough losing Bum, but it’s an honor to be able to get that nod and go out there and give everything I’ve got and go get them,” Blach said.
The Giants hoped Bumgarner could go into Los Angeles and get the season off to a roaring start by beating the best pitcher in the game. Maybe Blach can put a twist on that. Bochy has had more success against Kershaw over the years by going with his “bomb squad” lineups of random right-handed hitters. Perhaps Blach, then, is just the man to waltz into Dodger Stadium and open the season with a statement win.