The former big leaguer serving as Delmarva mentor, plus O’s notes

When the low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds took the field the last two weeks, with their new-look roster featuring a host of 2021 draft picks, an older pitcher ran to the mound four times with them. He kind of fit in with his own youthful look, even though he is 30 and a veteran of 92 major league games.

Before the game, some fans may have figured he was one of the coaches, but lefty Ty Blach is still a player. A player just over 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery and pitching with Delmarva now. But hopeful he will one day be back on a major league mound.

The Orioles added Blach - drafted by the San Francisco Giants in round five in 2012 - via waivers on Aug. 3, 2019. He got into five O’s games that year, but it didn’t go well as he went 1-3 with an 11.32 ERA in 21 innings. Last July he was pitching in an exhibition contest, trying to make the O’s roster for the shortened 2020 season, when something went wrong. He tore his ulnar collateral ligament and had the surgery July 15, 2020.

Blach-Fires-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgFor now, he’s just delighted to be back in games anywhere, even in low A ball, and he’s delighted to have become something of a mentor for this young group of ‘21 draft picks and other players with Delmarva.

“Definitely a blessing,” Blach said recently at Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Md. “Really thankful for the Orioles to give me this opportunity to rehab, get me into some games this year, knowing that I wasn’t going to throw many meaningful innings this season. But just to help me get out there, that’s meant a lot. Been nice to be back in a team environment, and I feel really good.

“The stuff is coming along. It’s just a matter of kind of building the arm strength and let things get stronger in there. Not trying to overdo it right now. So just staying limited with pitch counts and things, knowing that I’m not pushing any major, high-stress innings at this point. But I feel really good, no issues with anything. My velocity has been right back where it was before, and feel like my off-speed pitches are really crisp. Been really encouraged by that. That’s all I could ask for at this point. Just excited to be here and face some competition.”

So far, Blach, who is 16-22 with a 4.99 ERA in his big league career, has thrown 13 scoreless innings on four hits with one walk and 15 strikeouts over two levels. He joined the 2021 draft class pitching in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League and has thrown six scoreless innings in four games for the Shorebirds. He might remain with this club the rest of the year.

But he’s been getting to know the young kids, starting with his time in Florida and now with Delmarva, and passing on any advice he can.

“It’s been awesome, you can tell, they are all really excited,” he said. “It’s been fun to get to know them the last few weeks down in Florida as they’ve come in and played games down there. It’s been really neat to get to know the guys, they are a really tight-knit group. They can play. So, it’s going to be fun to see what they have at this level, how they come together and hopefully make a little push for the playoffs here.”

He even faced some of the draft picks when the two O’s FCL teams played each other. The vet got the best of the kids.

“It went well for me. That is what happens when you have the experience of pitching in pro ball as long as I have, you kind of find some hitters’ weaknesses and they’re still learning,” he said.

With the Shorebirds, Blach has been getting questions from both pitchers and hitters. Some of the position players have picked his brain about what they should look for in the box. Blach has been delighted to pay it forward, so to speak.

“When I came up with the Giants (in 2016), I had unbelievable older guys, veteran guys that helped me: Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, Javier López, you’ve got (Madison) Bumgarner over there. Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum. I was coming up in the prime of all these amazing pitchers,” Blach said. “Just to sit there and talk to them and have them pour into me, to be able to do that for these guys is really cool. Something where I always hoped I would have the chance to help guys out. Been really neat.”

O’s fall in Toronto: The Orioles lost to Toronto 7-3 Monday night at Rogers Centre in the opener of a three-game series and six-game road trip. They fall to 40-90 and are on a pace for a final record of 50-112.

They are now 3-7 against Toronto and 13-42 versus the American League East. Overall, the Orioles have lost 23 of 25 games.

Ryan Mountcastle homered for the second day in a row for No. 25. That moves him past Trey Mancini into third on the O’s single-season homer list for rookies. Now he chases Hall of Famers. Eddie Murray hit 27 in 1977 and Cal Ripken Jr. hit 28 in 1982. Both won the AL Rookie of the Year award.

Mountcastle has hit five homers his last nine games and nine in his last 20. In 18 games this month, he is batting .364 (24-for-66) with five doubles, eight homers and 16 RBIs. He is 6-for-8 his last two games.

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