Clayton Kershaw upset about being removed from game. pic.twitter.com/7mNqMtGY9y
— handlit33 (@handlit33) September 7, 2019
If the end of this Giants season couldn’t include a final playoff push, couldn’t quite see really meaningful September games, couldn’t vault Bruce Bochy into retirement as a winning manager, at least it featured one moment Giants fans will remember.
A beleaguered Clayton Kershaw, who danced out of trouble all night until he couldn’t anymore, snapping in the Dodger Stadium dugout, taking his frustration out on an innocent jug that was kicked against the wall.
Between a beaten-down Kershaw and a glowing Mauricio Dubon, who finished a triple shy of the cycle, Friday was a nice way for the Giants to start the series in Los Angeles, winning 5-4.
Dubon was crucial and Tyler Rogers, Fernando Abad and Jandel Gustave emerged as some of Bochy’s most trusted, but the sight of Kershaw exploding will be best remembered by Giants fans.
Kershaw slid by – somehow – over the first three innings, in which the Giants loaded the bases in the first and got two on in the second and third. Still, the Dodgers led 1-0 until the fourth, when Dubon hammered a shot off the left-field pole. Dubon went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, not a bad way to start a career against Kershaw.
An inning later is when the Giants broke through. An Austin Slater single and 12-pitch Kevin Pillar walk knocked Kershaw from the game after 99 pitches, allowing seven hits and three walks, and he was about to be charged with three runs. The Dodgers intentionally walked Buster Posey to load the bases for a pinch-hitting Mike Yastrzemski – a strange decision. It took someone off the bench to finally cash in.
Yastrzemski doubled to deep center off Dylan Floro, knocking in two runs, making the score 3-1 and becoming the first Giant (of nine) to get a hit with runners in scoring position. That snapped the Giants out of the clutch slump, as after the Dodgers walked Brandon Belt, Dubon slapped a two-run single to left, making it 5-1 and capping a nightmare outing for Kershaw.
The Giants tortured him. The all-time great labored through his four innings, not completing five for the first time in 24 starts against them. His career ERA of 1.68 against San Francisco will rise.
A.J. Pollock got one back in the bottom of the fifth with a homer to center, his second of the day off Jeff Samardzija, who was solid if not excellent, allowing three runs in six innings. Pollock would add a third in the ninth off Will Smith, cutting the lead in half but nothing more.
Without Tony Watson, who bruised himself a night earlier diving, the Giants’ new-look bullpen came through. First it was Rogers, who allowed one walk in the seventh, but struck out Will Smith and Chris Taylor to finish off the biggest inning of his life thus far.
The eighth was taken care of by Abad (two outs) and Gustave (one out), combining to pitch a 1-2-3 frame. It was not easy for Smith to shut the door, the Pollock moon shot cutting the lead in half and walking Russell Martin with two outs. He had to get The Other Will Smith, coming back from a 3-0 hole to strike him out to end the game.
It was a complete victory for the Giants (68-73). And completely satisfying for Giants fans, who like seeing Kershaw squirm almost as much as they like seeing the Giants win.