December 7, 2022

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Blach, Black celebrate each other's success

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DENVER — Ty Blach returned to his hometown of Denver to rehab from his July 15, 2020, Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and find a new job pitching.

When his hometown Rockies approached him, Blach, who had established his career with the Giants and Orioles, was all for the idea of his long road leading him home. When manager Bud Black called him, he knew there was no other place for him.

“He called me right after we had started talking with the Rockies,” Blach said after his four-inning save in the Rockies’ opening series-winning 9-4 victory over the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field. “We had about an hour-long conversation.

“I really enjoyed getting to know him, picking his brain and understanding philosophies of pitching here at Coors Field. Obviously, he’s been there and done it and had a lot of success with it.”

Blach could counter with his own memories, having attended games there since childhood and having played on the field a few times while starring for Regis Jesuit High School.

He made his debut at Coors with the Giants with three scoreless innings Sept. 5, 2016, but this one was special — not only being at home but having overcome the injury.

After entering in the sixth with the Rockies up, 7-4, he walked Cody Bellinger and gave up a Chris Taylor single, but retired the next three — including a strikeout of Mookie Betts.

“For me, the biggest thing was being able to enjoy the moment,” Blach said. “Just cherish every bit of it and know that my perspective has changed the last few years, being away from the game.”

By the end of Sunday, they were enjoying each other’s success while being treated to a beer shower.

Blach received his drenching for striking out four, giving up one hit and one walk and earning just the seventh four-inning save in Rockies history.

Black’s was for becoming the 66th manager in history to earn his 1,000th victory.

But he was happier to talk about Blach.

“There were a few other clubs that were interested in Ty, but I felt as though we had a good chance to sign him,” Black said. “We talked about a role. We talked about potential to start and make our team, and he lived up to his expectation of helping the Rockies.

“It’s a great story in the present, and hopefully this will continue helping us win.”

Blach was part of a bullpen that helped the Rockies earn their first home series win over the Dodgers since Aug. 9-12, 2018. That season ended with the Rockies losing the NLDS to the Brewers.

To get that far again, the Rockies will need long relievers to help the starters through the early part of the season. Two of the Rockies’ three starters in the series win didn’t make it through the fourth inning. Kyle Freeland lasted 3 2/3 innings in the opening 5-3 loss Friday. On Sunday, a less-than-sharp Antonio Senzatela made it through 3 1/3, giving up nine hits and four runs (1 earned).

Before Blach’s stellar innings, Jhoulys Chacín had to make sure the early lead didn’t dissipate. Three of Senzatela’s runners scored because Kris Bryant dropped a fly ball in left, but Chacín took care of the two outs he could control and threw another inning.

After the eighth, catcher Elias Díaz, who knocked one of the Rockies’ two two-run homers (C.J. Cron hit the other), told Black that Blach was strong enough to finish.

While Black appreciated his catcher’s emphaticness, he already knew. Because Blach was able to participate in Minor League camp, he was ahead of the rotation members in preparing for the season.

“Things may have worked out differently had I not signed a Minor League deal,” Blach said. “I had that opportunity to come out about three weeks before everybody else did, and the big league coaching staff was there. They saw that I was healthy and gave me the opportunity to start the first [Cactus League] game and show I could still get big league hitters out.”

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