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Ty Blach and the three-inning save

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, April 11, 2022

Baseball is back. In what was surely no surprise to any of the 40,000 in attendance each night, the Rockies took two of three from the Dodgers over the weekend, punctuated by Bud Black’s 1,000th major league win and Ty Blach’s first major league save.

While the win will surely be memorable for Buddy, that’s likely only because it is a round number: 1,000. The save will be similarly memorable for Blach as it is also a round number: 1. Blach’s save will also be memorable because of the unique way it was awarded.

According to Major League Baseball’s official definition, to earn a save a pitcher “must preserve his team’s lead while doing one of the following:

  • Enter the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitch at least one inning.
  • Enter the game with the tying run in the on-deck circle, at the plate or on the bases.
  • Pitch at least three innings.”

Blach, obviously, earned his save by meeting the rarest criteria, the last of the three. He is just the fifteenth Rockies pitcher all-time to earn a save this way, and first since Tyler Anderson’s three-inning, one-hit performance against the Diamondbacks in 2017. Here’s the full list, including the three pitchers - José Jiménez, Kevin Ritz, and Willie Blair - who did it more than once. Former Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes and current Mariners President of Baseball Ops Jerry Dipoto also feature on this list.

Rockies Three-Inning Saves

Pitcher Date Opponent Game Result IP Home / Away
Pitcher Date Opponent Game Result IP Home / Away
Keith Shepherd 1993-06-08 PIT W 4-1 4 Away
Bruce Ruffin 1993-09-14 (1) HOU W 9-4 4 Home
Willie Blair 1994-05-30 NYM W 12-2 3 Away
Willie Blair 1994-06-17 LAD W 13-5 3.1 Away
Willie Blair 1994-07-05 CHC W 9-6 3 Away
Steve Reed 1995-05-11 SFG W 10-4 3 Home
Kevin Ritz 1995-09-09 CIN W 6-2 4 Home
Kevin Ritz 1995-09-12 ATL W 12-2 4 Home
Darren Holmes 1997-04-07 CIN W 13-2 3 Home
Jerry Dipoto 1997-06-08 (1) FLA W 7-2 3 Home
Jose Jimenez 2000-04-04 ATL W 5-3 3 Away
Jose Jimenez 2003-08-03 PIT W 16-4 4 Away
Jose Acevedo 2005-09-02 LAD W 11-3 3 Home
Jason Grilli 2008-08-26 SFG W 7-2 3 Away
Jason Hammel 2011-09-11 CIN W 4-1 4 Home
Tyler Chatwood 2012-04-11 SFG W 17-8 3 Home
Jordan Lyles 2016-07-09 PHI W 8-3 3 Home
Chris Rusin 2017-05-06 ARI W 9-1 3 Home
Ty Blach 2022-04-10 LAD W 9-4 4 Home
Baseball Reference

When saves became an official stat in 1969, the three-inning variety were relatively commonplace, meriting their specific inclusion in the definition of the stat. This continued through the 80s until Tony La Russa “ruined baseball” by deploying future Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley as a one-inning end of game specialist - what we now call a closer.

The decrease of the three-inning save continued through the 90s and 00s, as managers managed on a matchup by matchup basis, creating things like LOOGYs (left-handed one out guys). By the 2010s the amount of three-inning saves seemed to have bottomed out, limiting the occurrence to blowout games or times like doubleheaders when preserving a bullpen is more necessary than normal. The three-inning save seemed to be heading towards obsoletion.

But, baseball is always changing. In 2019, with the introduction of the three-batter minimum for pitchers, LOOGYs have seen their roles mostly disappear and three-inning saves have been on the rebound (2020 COVID shortened season aside):

Blach’s save on Sunday was the first such occurrence for the Rockies this year, and across the MLB. However, it likely won’t be the last.

For Blach, the Regis Jesuit High School and Creighton University product, it hopefully won’t be the last either. He was invited to the Rockies camp on a minor league contract after not pitching in the big leagues since 2019. Sunday was a homecoming in multiple ways for him, and ideally this will be just the prologue to a 2022 that can amount to more than a feel good story.

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FanGraphs 2022 Staff Predictions | FanGraphs.com

You saw Purple Row’s season predictions last week, where no one picked the Rockies to make the playoffs. It’s a different story at FanGraphs, however, where one writer picked the 2022 Rockies to squeak into a Wild Card spot. While this seems like a reach, even after the miniscule sample size of three games this weekend, the optimism is refreshing.

Regis Jesuit grad Ty Blach impresses in Rockies debut | The Denver Post ($)

A theme for the Rockies this year seems to be having a team full of players who “want to be here”. Kris Bryant’s press conference left no doubt that he, as the new face of the Rockies, wants to play in the purple pinstripes. Ty Blach, despite not being the new face of the Rockies, also seems to fit this category. He grew up in Denver, attending Regis Jesuit High School, and referred to his playing for the Rockies as “a dream come true”. His experience in pitching at altitude has already come in handy, and hopefully that good fortune will continue.

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Oklahoma City Dodgers 12, Albuquerque Isotopes 6

The Isotopes scored one more run than Saturday’s game, but most else seemed like deja vu after dropping Saturday’s game by a score of 12-5. Scott Schebler knocked a bases clearing triple in the fifth to tie the game at three, and the Isotopes would also fight back to tie the game at six in the seventh, but it unraveled from there. The Dodgers put up six of their own in the bottom of the seventh to lock down the victory. Ryan Feltner (no. 15 PuRP) started for the Isotopes, striking out four, walking one, and allowing eight hits and four earned runs over four innings of work. Elehuris Montero (2021 midseason no. 5 PuRP) hit his second home run of the year, but it was not enough - one of just four extra base hits on the day. The Isotopes have an off day Monday before welcoming the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle) to town on Tuesday.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 10, Binghamton Rumble Ponies 8

In another matchup of “mascots you only see in minor league baseball”, the Yard Goats continued to mash the ball against the Rumble Ponies. Ezequiel Tovar (2021 midseason no. 12 PuRP) had two doubles, continuing to justify his promotion, and Willie MacIver (no. 28 PuRP) deposited his first home run of the year. Hartford also has an off day today, then will travel to Somerset NH on Tuesday to take on the Patriots (Yankees).

High-A: Vancouver Canadians 8, Spokane Indians 7

Spokane put together a late rally, scoring three in the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win Sunday. Seven of the starters recorded a hit, including Zac Veen (2021 midseason no. 1 PuRP), who added two walks and two stolen bases. Grant Lavigne (no. 22 PuRP) had two hits and three RBIs. The Indians are off Monday, then will face off against the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks) on Tuesday.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 6, Stockton Ports 5

Rounding out the Rockies affiliates scores for Sunday, the Grizzlies continued their early undefeated streak with a sweep of the Ports (A’s). Warming Bernabel (no. 18 PuRP) scattered two hits, Hunter Goodman (no. 27 PuRP) had three hits, and Juan Brito connected for his second home run of the year. The Grizzlies are also partaking in the off day Monday, then they will go on the road Tuesday for a game against the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres).

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