LOS ANGELES — Mauricio Dubon pumped both of his fists, pointed into the stands behind the visitors’ first-base dugout at Dodger Stadium and reveled in the boos.
With a two-run, bases-loaded single in the fifth inning, the San Francisco Giants rookie shortstop — who moved from Honduras to Sacramento at 15 to chase the chance at a baseball career — left his mark on the rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Dubon had never even been to a rivalry game between the two teams — he’d watched them on television with his two host families — before keying Friday night’s 5-4 win. With three hits — including his second career home run — and three RBIs, he earned plenty of emnity. The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the NL West coming into Friday was four. He staved off the celebration for a bit longer.
“That was awesome, that was incredible,” Dubon said. “Listening to boos at Dodger Stadium, Giants-Dodgers, it was fun. It was really fun.”
Dubon fouled off three pitches from Clayton Kershaw in the second before coming up with a booming double, and after AJ Pollock hit the first of his three homers on the night in the second, Dubon tied things up with a solo shot to left on a 1-1 fastball in the fourth. He knew it was gone when it left the bat. He’d gone hitless against Kershaw in the Dodgers left-hander’s April 4 rehab start, and knew Kershaw would try to get him out throwing inside.
As he rounded first, he looked back at the dugout and yelled, “Let’s go!”
“It felt surreal when I got into the dugout,” Dubon said. “He’s one of the greatest ever, so it’s pretty special, and we won too, so that makes it extra special.”
“What Dubon did today, those at-bats off of Kershaw, that was impressive,” said Giants starter Jeff Samardzija.
Aside from Dubon, Kershaw kept the Giants in check, fanning Buster Posey and Joey Rickard with the bases loaded in the first, escaping a two-on, no-out jam by fanning Donovan Solano and Austin Slater in the second and rolling up a double play and a strikeout in the third after another two-on, one-out jam.
San Francisco kept chipping away — at Kershaw, if not at the score — and after a 12-pitch walk to Kevin Pillar, Kershaw exited with two on and no outs in the fifth having thrown 99 pitches. It was the first time in 47 career starts against San Francisco that Kershaw failed to complete five innings.
Dylan Floro came on and intentionally walked Posey, and manager Bruce Bochy — who had constructed a lineup composed of all right-handers to counter Kershaw — flipped Rickard for lefty-hitting Mike Yastrzemski, who in his first big league season has 19 home runs in just 299 at-bats. On the eighth pitch of Yastrzemski’s 300th at-bat, he slugged a bases-loaded, two-run double off the base of the right-center field wall.
After Brandon Belt drew a pinch-hit intentional walk, Dubon shot a two-run, bases-loaded single through the left side. As he reached first, the shortstop who wore a Brandon Crawford jersey to Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS — even after playing his first pro season in the Boston system — pumped both his fists and pointed to one of his two host families from Sacramento, the Garcias. Nine years after he first came into their lives, they made the drive down to see him, and were sitting behind the dugout.
“They get emotional every time I do something,” Dubon said. “It’s crazy that it happened here, and it’s crazy that all this is happening.”
Pollock’s second homer in the fifth, and an RBI single off the glove of a leaping Dubon in the sixth trimmed the lead, but Samardzija got through six innings on 91 pitches, having allowed just three runs on five hits and no walks. It marked the seventh time in his last 10 starts that he’s gone at least five and allowed three runs or fewer.
Pollock rocked his third homer of the game (his second career three-homer game — April 30, 2018 was his last) off of closer Will Smith with two outs in the ninth, cutting the lead to one. After Smith walked Russell Martin, he faced Dodgers catcher Will Smith, and struck him out for his 32nd save. More boos ensued. Dubon just smiled.
Soon after the game, Dubon and host father Tyson Garcia connected. Hearing those boos, he told Garcia, “It was awesome.”
“Here at Dodger Stadium, the big stage, you wouldn’t know it the way he handled himself,” said Bochy, who recorded his 1,994th career win and 219th against the Dodgers after being feted with a pregame ceremony. “He’s got a great way about him. He’s got a lot of confidence. Love the way he carries himself.”