DENVER — Ty Blach was in the stands when the Rockies played their first game in 1993. Two years later he was at Coors Field, celebrating the opening of a new park. He spent much of his childhood sitting in a friend’s seats behind the bullpen, dreaming of life as a big leaguer.
As a high school pitcher in nearby Centennial, Blach played for a team that had Rockies manager Walt Weiss as an assistant coach. He came to Denver this week hoping to say hello to Weiss, but before he had that chance, Blach pitched in front of his old coach.
Blach made his big league debut Monday in front of over 100 family members and friends. For a moment, he gave the Giants a reprieve from a hellish second-half descent. Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner were waiting to congratulate Blach after his third scoreless inning of relief and manager Bruce Bochy looked on like a proud father. Later, he said he was happy for Blach because he’s “such a great kid.”
“I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to make my debut in front of friends and family and in the stadium where I grew up watching games,” Blach said, a smile glued to his face. “To live out a dream that you’ve had since you were three years old, that’s pretty special.”
Almost everything about the debut was ideal. Almost everything.
As Blach walked off the field following batting practice, Bochy stopped him in a hallway and said he would try to get him in a game soon. Blach shook off the manager’s suggestion, saying it didn’t matter what he did as long as the team was successful.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Rockies tee off on Moore, Bettis blanks Giants]
That hasn’t been the case in a while, which is part of the reason Blach got three innings Monday. His debut came in mop-up duty, the three innings keeping the Giants from a total blowout, but not an embarrassing loss.
The Giants fell 6-0, managing just two hits against right-hander Chad Bettis. This came on the heels of a four-game series in which they had just 14 total hits. In the two decades after a four-year-old Blach watched the Rockies christen a new park, the franchise managed just one two-hit shutout. Bettis made the second one look easy Monday, leaving Bochy to say his team looked flat and showed a lack of energy.
“We’ve been in this (slump) for a while,” he said. “It’s time for us to wake up.”
Bochy will try to provide the splash of cold water. He said several regulars will get Tuesday’s game off. The hope is that fresh legs provide some real offense, and that a day off helps the slumping stars. At this point, hope is all Bochy has. He has tried just about everything he can think of. His team continues to slide.
“We’re looking for that magic wand,” Bochy said. “I mean, we’re better than this. You do your work and do all you can to help out. This thing is contagious and it’s been here a while, for too long.”
The virus has put the Giants in a position where they’re potentially just two more losses from being out of a playoff spot. They left the park Monday with a 3 1/2 game deficit in the NL West and a half-game lead over the Cardinals atop the Wild Card standings. The patchwork Mets are all of a sudden just 1 1/2 games behind the Giants for that second play-in spot.
There have been different culprits at different times. The rotation. The bullpen. The coaching staff. But on this trip, the lineup has been the problem. For all the praise heaped on Chicago’s pitching, the Giants fared even worse against Bettis, who is a solid pitcher, but hardly the type who is expected to be standing on the mound in the ninth at Coors Field. This was his first complete game in any park.
The offense left Matt Moore with no wiggle room, and he imploded in the third. Moore walked Christian Adames and then issued four straight balls to Bettis, who was trying to put down a bunt. The Rockies had a run two batters later. Carlos Gonzalez’s grand slam did most of the rest of the damage in a six-run frame.
“I just got upset with myself right there and wound up pitching with not the clearest mind,” Moore said. “I was a little angry at myself to even allow (Adames) to get to 3-2. I’ve got to be better than that. The pitcher is going to bunt, let him bunt. I didn’t give us a very good chance today.”
Moore said he hasn’t been this consistently out of the strike zone since his rookie year, but it’s a problem he’s been working to fix between starts. He has shown flashes of brilliance, and his fellow starters will surely tell the longtime Tampa Bay Ray that a day like this at Coors is not unusual for a pitcher. It is for a lineup, though, and right now the Giants are as cold as you can get.
Moore was followed by Matt Cain, who pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings before giving way to Blach. The longest-tenured Giant seemed to understand the urgency of the moment.
“The guys here know what’s going on,” Cain said. “They understand. We need to win, but we’re just finding ways not to win games.”