By Paige Shacklett
SCOTTSDALE — Pitching eight shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Clinching at least a tie for a Wild Card spot. Recording a first Major League win.
Just another day in the office for San Francisco Giants left-hander Ty Blach.
That performance on Oct. 1, 2016 has put him in the conversation for the No. 5 spot in the rotation behind the injury-prone Matt Cain. Securing that role would place Blach in a mix of seasoned pitchers such as Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto.
Blach hopes to use spring training to show his impressive introduction was not an aberration and that he is deserving of a starting spot for the upcoming season.
“Just focusing everyday on the things you can control, not worrying about the outside situation or circumstances,” he said. “Focusing on your attitude and work ethic every day and just trying to get better.”
On the next-to-last day of the 2016 regular season, Blach threw from the Giants home mound in just his second career start after being a part of the September call-ups. San Francisco needed the win for a chance at a playoff berth with only the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw standing in its way.
Blach didn’t let the big stage rattle him.
“I think for me I was just trying to stay in the moment and try to execute one pitch at a time and not try to get too far ahead of myself,” he said.
Blach focused on controlling the elements of the game in his power. He also helped the cause by contributing two hits against Kershaw in the 3-0 victory.
“Sometimes you just get lucky and close your eyes and swing hard and good things happen as a pitcher so guess I got lucky a couple of times,” Blach said.
“That (win) was awesome, especially considering our position where we were last year. It was fun being able to kinda get the guys into the postseason and give us a chance.”
The native of Aurora, Colorado threw his first pitch a month earlier in his hometown stadium against the Colorado Rockies.
“I grew up in Denver so there was a lot of friends and family there so that was pretty special running out there and getting to pitch at Coors Field,” Blach said.
After graduating from Creighton University in 2012, Blach was drafted in the fifth round, 178th overall, by the Giants. He spent three-plus years in the minors before receiving his first call-up.
“There was a group of us, I think six or seven of us, that were going up in September,” he said. “They had all been called up before so that was pretty special for me to be able to share it with those guys and just kinda get the hugs and go around with them.”
Throughout those years, Blach stayed rooted in his belief of controlling the controllable.
“It’s one of those things where you just have to focus on the things you can control every day and that’s your work ethic and your attitude,” Blach said. “So I was just trying to get better and keep working hard and hopefully good things are going to happen.”
Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants’ spring training home, is a gathering place for Triple-A teammates Blach, pitcher Steven Okert and others.
“That’s been fun, especially over the last several years,” Blach said. “I think there’s been five or six guys from our draft class that have been called up in the last year or two and everybody is really close.”
Okert, Blach’s teammate from the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, saw the success Blach had and is excited to be getting a look from the big-league club.
“I’m just going to do the best I can and take what I’ve done in the off-season to prepare for this and just put that towards the game and if I get that (roster) spot, obviously, it’s going to be awesome,” Okert said. “If I don’t then, hopefully they’ll let me know what I need to work on and I can do that to get to that spot.”
Another day in the office for Okert. And another one for Blach, as he strives to perfect the traits that have guided him so far in his career.
(Video by Ryan Curry/Cronkite News)