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Blach, Davies share EL starters' spotight
Pitching prospects show there's more to game than wins and losses
04/29/2014 12:09 AM ET
Ty Blach is 13-5 in 27 career Minor League starts across two levels. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

It was advertised as a pitchers' duel between two top arms making the jump to the Eastern League and the hype lived up to the billing Monday night.

Richmond starter Ty Blach carried a shutout into the seventh inning and his Bowie counterpart struck out a career-high 10 batters, but neither hurler factored in the decision as the Double-A Baysox rallied late to edge the Flying Squirrels, 3-2.

The final scoreline -- and the fact that neither starter was a pitcher of record -- did nothing to take the shine off their outings.

Blach, the No. 6 Giants prospect, scattered three hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out two batters and walked one, lowering his ERA to 1.54. He was in line for his second win of the season, but the Flying Squirrels conceded three runs in the top of the ninth inning.

"I think as a pitcher whenever you see [a team's ace] marked up to go against you, you're excited for the challenge," said Blach (1-1). "It's mano a mano. It's exciting to play in this league where you will see all of this good starting pitching.

"It makes it fun, more competitive and that's what you thrive on. You're trying to outdo the other guy."

Those three runs that Bowie scratched across late, incidentally, took Davies (1-1) off the hook. Baltimore's No. 14 prospect surrendered a pair of runs on four hits and five walks over seven innings before exiting the game.

Davies, 23, had fanned just six batters combined in his first three starts, and Monday's start marked the first time he hit double-digit punchouts in a single game. He struck out nine batters over 5 1/3 innings in Class A Advanced Frederick's loss to Lynchburg last July 30.

"It's awesome to be here in Double-A, getting to experience new teams and new guys and seeing all the other players in different organizations," Davies said. "It's a blast for me.

"It makes me just appreciate all the talent in the league and it's fun to play against the guys who are regarded as the best in their organizations. It's always fun to face the guys you hear about."

For Blach, the fact his team lost means more than not picking up the win personally, but it did nothing to detract from his strong start to life in the Eastern League.

Blach, who threw 58 of 88 pitches for strikes, has allowed one run or fewer in each of his past four starts. In fact, the only real stain on his season so far was an Opening Day loss in New Britain in which he was tagged for four runs over five innings.

Selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2012 Draft out of Creighton University, he went 12-4 with a 2.90 ERA in the hitter-friendly Class A Advanced California League in 2013. He gave up fewer hits (124) than innings pitched (130 1/3) and struck out 117 batters over 22 games, including 20 starts.

The left-hander's dominance has apparently carried over to Richmond where his 1.54 mark ranks third on the circuit.

"I've just been throwing my fastball and locating it and my defense has been awesome," said Blach, who only threw one inning in the past 12 days when his previous start got cut short because of an extended rain delay. "I just want to do the best I can. My job is just to give my team a chance to win, whether I get the win or not.

"[Today], I just let the defense make plays. I threw the ball over the plate and the guys behind me made plays all day."

For Davies, while his numbers in the Carolina League with Frederick (7-9, 3.69 ERA) weren't as impressive as Blach's, his start to 2014 has been almost as good.

The 21-year-old, a 26th-round Draft pick of the Orioles in 2011, had allowed four earned runs through his first three starts entering Monday and he was generating more ground balls than in previous years.

Davies was the first pitcher in more than two weeks to get through seven innings for Bowie, for whom his 10 Ks were also a season high.

"It's definitely a big jump," said Davies, who throws a fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a slider. "Guys are honed in with their swing, so it's about fine-tuning your pitches and throwing the right pitch in the right situation.

"I walked far too many guys tonight ... and I have not been in the groove yet. But I was mixing my pitches well and throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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