Kiké Hernandez goes bananas from the first pitch in Dodger win over Giants


By Jon Weisman

Last year, it was Kiké Hernandez, folk hero.

This year, it might be Kiké Hernandez, hero.

As if going 8 for 20 with a .955 OPS weren’t enough to start the season, Hernandez made himself the centerpiece of Chavez Ravine (aside from Jackie Robinson, of course) with two homers, a double and a huge catch in the first four innings of the Dodgers’ 7-3 victory over San Francisco, a win that put Los Angeles alone in first place in the National League West.

The Dodgers’ own rally banana didn’t wait for the team to fall behind to make Giants ace Madison Bumgarner slip. After Clayton Kershaw finished the top of the first inning with seven pitches, Hernandez kept the foot on the gas by hitting Bumgarner’s very first pitch 451 feet to dead center — the seventh-longest homer in MLB this year, according to Statcast.

Two innings later, after the Giants had tied the game on a Kershaw wild pitch, Hernandez a Bumgarner fastball to left center, a mere 433 feet away. Only an inning after that, Hernandez came up with the bases loaded and doubled sharply down the left-field line, driving home two more runs.

In only four innings, Hernandez had become the first Dodger with 10 total bases in a game since Yasmani Grandal on May 7, 2015, and the first with two homers and a double in a game since Hanley Ramirez on April 6, 2014.

On top of that, Hernandez continued to play the role of Kiké the Bumgarner Slayer: 10 for 16 with three homers in his career against the lefty. Only Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies has hit more homers (five) against Bumgarner, and Gonzalez has 30 more at-bats against him.

The Giants pulled Bumgarner from the game just before Hernandez coming up to bat for the fourth time, after Kershaw reached base with none out in the bottom of the sixth on San Francisco’s third error. Right-hander Cory Gearrin got Hernandez to hit into a double play, but it wasn’t much of a “so there” — by that time, the Dodgers had a 7-3 lead.

Hernandez had four RBI. Who had the other three? None other than Charlie Culberson, the extra-inning hero six days ago in San Francisco, when the Dodgers survived a Bumgarner start and won in 10 innings. This time, Culberson singled home two runs in the fourth and another in the sixth.

The biggest oddity of the game, however, belonged to Kershaw, who came out with his usual no-hit stuff, retiring the first seven batters before Bumgarner (yeah, him) singled. Bumgarner later came around to score on a single, error and wild pitch, for the first unearned run of the year against Los Angeles. Hernandez prevented further damage with a critical diving catch in left field of a Posey liner, to save two more runs from scoring.

In the top of the sixth, Kershaw wild-pitched home a second run, marking the first time in his 247 career games that he had ever wild-pitched two runs. An RBI single followed, but that was the final baserunner Kershaw allowed in his seven innings of work — five hits, no walks, six strikeouts.

With a shutout inning apiece, Chris Hatcher and Joe Blanton finished the game out for the Dodgers, who have matched their season-opening three-game winning streak.

2 Comments

2 games in a row the pen did great (and three the didn’t blow it.

Jon will appreciate this: the video with The Vin calling Kiké’s home run is 42 seconds long.

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