LOS ANGELES -- For years, Giants manager Bruce Bochy would smile, give a quick nod to his lineup and dub the starting nine the "Bomb Squad." That seemed to be his best chance against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Load up on the righties and hope a Brett Pill or Brandon Hicks or Kelby Tomlinson would hit a surprise homer. Perhaps Joaquin Arias would pick up a big hit.
Friday's version wasn't quite a Bomb Squad, but Bochy still tried something different. For the first time he could remember, he started nine right-handed batters against Kershaw.
"September baseball at its finest," Bochy joked.
Early on, the latest plan against Kershaw just led to more frustration. The Giants stranded six baserunners in the first three innings. And then their brash rookie shortstop stepped up for the second time.
Mauricio Dubon fouled off three pitches before doubling in his first big league at-bat against Kershaw. He jumped on a 1-0 slider in the fourth, yanking a solo shot to left. As Dubon watched the ball fly and Kershaw twisted his body in an effort to will it foul, the ball smacked off the netting of the left field pole. It was the memorable blow in a 5-4 win over the Dodgers.
Mauricio Dubon has a double and a homer in his first two career at-bats against Clayton Kershaw: pic.twitter.com/5OfYNH8Of2— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 7, 2019
Dubon pointed to the dugout and then started to round the bases. When he touched the plate, he pointed into the stands, where a family full of Giants fans was soaking up the boos just as he was.
"That was awesome. That was incredible," Dubon said. "Listening to boos at Dodger Stadium, Giants-Dodgers -- it was fun."
Dubon joined Hunter Pence and Evan Longoria as the only Giants to pick up two extra-base in one game against Kershaw. He's one of just three current Giants with a homer off him, along with Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner.
Dubon later added a two-run single as part of a four-run rally. He came up a triple shy of the cycle, and admitted he was fully going for it in his fourth at-bat.
“It’s a big stage and you wouldn’t know it the way he handled himself,” Bochy said. “He crushed that homer and the double and got another huge hit. He’s got a great way about him. He’s got a lot of confidence. I love the way he carries himself.”
Dubon showed off much more than confidence, though. He's a smart and tough hitter, and he took plenty away from an early season matchup with Kershaw, who rehabbed against Dubon's Triple-A team when he was still with the Brewers. Kershaw pounded him inside that day and had plenty of success. Dubon vowed that if he faced him again he would look inside and not swing at anything on the outer half.
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That led to his first career homer against a pitcher he called "one of the greatest ever." Dubon said he knew it was gone off the bat, but the magnitude of the moment didn't hit him until he was done floating around the bases at Dodger Stadium.
"It felt surreal," he said. "When I got into the dugout I realized what had just happened."