Usual suspect torments Bumgarner in LA's win

Hernandez launches fourth homer off Giants ace

June 17th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- 's tiebreaking, two-run homer that powered the Dodgers to a 3-1 win over the Giants only enhanced his reputation as an all-time killer.

In 34 plate appearances against the Giants ace, Hernandez has 15 hits, four of them homers and five of them doubles. He has the best career marks against Bumgarner in all three slash-line categories, with a minimum of 25 plate appearances.

That means batting average (.455), on-base percentage (.471) and slugging percentage (.970). Add it up and, of course, he's also dominant in OPS (1.441). His four homers are the second-most against Bumgarner behind 's five, but in only 34 plate appearances compared to CarGo's 63.

And Hernandez's home-run rate against Bumgarner is 11.8 percent, also the highest for a minimum of 25 plate appearances.

Combine Hernandez's homer with another Matt Kemp homer and Alex Wood's second victory of the year and the Dodgers improved their June record to 11-2, with 21 wins in their last 27 games. Coupled with the D-backs' loss to the Mets, the Dodgers' victory cut to 1 1/2 games a National League West deficit that once was nine.

"At the beginning, my first year, I probably got [Bumgarner] more times than he got me," said Hernandez. "But after the two-homer game here in '16, he's probably got the best of it. He adjusted to me and I hadn't really made too many adjustments. Today, pretty much came with the same game plan all three at-bats and it took three at-bats to adjust, but I'm glad I did."

The home run came in Hernandez's third at-bat of the game, after a flyout to left field and a foulout to first base.

"You know, the first two at-bats, I was telling the others, I've been seeing the ball really well and I was a little bit too anxious with my first two ABs," Hernandez said. "And my third at-bat, with [Austin] Barnes at second, with a runner in scoring position, it was a pretty big at-bat in the game. Just trying to slow it down, see the ball, see something that I could drive, and I got one. It was one of the few mistakes that he made today, and I swung at it."

Hernandez nailed a curveball, which he said Bumgarner has relied on since Hernandez showed in their early meetings that he will jump on and crush a lefty's fastball.

"It's no secret I've thrown a ton of curveballs here the last few times against him," said Bumgarner. "He made the adjustment. Granted, it wasn't in the best spot, either.

"... You just have to tip your hat sometimes. He's pretty good at hitting lefties anyway. ... it's just the cat-and-mouse game, the game within a game."

Offensively, Hernandez is only one shy of his career high of 11 home runs, but his average is only .218 after hitting .196 in May.

"I had a pretty brutal May and not the greatest of starts to June, so just to be able to contribute to my team, not only on the defensive side, but at the plate as well, it's huge," said Hernandez, who made a pair of challenging catches in center field, where he's inherited substantial playing time in the fallout from shortstop 's season-ending elbow surgery.

"When I'm playing [well], I feel like my goal for the day is to try to either drive one or score one. That means do it at the plate or do it on the bases. Tonight I did both. We're playing really good baseball right now. We feel like we're playing like the team we're capable of playing. Things are starting to look good and we hope it can keep going."

While Hernandez and Kemp have both homered in back-to-back games, one of the true bright spots for the Dodgers was getting a win out of Wood (2-5), who was 11-1 at this time last year. He made it 5 2/3 innings, admitting he got fatigued while focusing on mechanical tweaks he made between starts, in part to counter nagging hamstring and adductor issues.

The Dodgers bullpen finished off the final 3 1/3 innings scoreless, with securing his 17th save of the year.


The low-scoring game was filled with defensive highlights. Three of them were with at bat -- Hernandez flagging down his high fly to the fence in center in the second inning, fielding his bouncer down the third-base line and flipping to first in the fourth inning and hanging on while slamming into the out-of-town scoreboard embedded in the right-field fence in the sixth inning.

Second baseman stole one hit and catcher threw out Joe Panik trying to steal second base in the seventh inning, which Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called a "pivotal" play.

The Giants countered with left fielder Williamson making a lunging catch of Forsythe's sinking liner to end the bottom of the fourth inning and third baseman flagging a fifth-inning smash by Chris Taylor, spinning and firing, then having his throw in the dirt stabbed by first baseman , in his first game back after an appendectomy.


The Dodger Stadium sellout crowd of 53,706 was the largest in MLB this season.

Kemp has homered in back-to-back games three times this season.


"Kiké has a lot of confidence right now and Bum is one of the best in baseball. The numbers are kind of hard to understand. It's fun to watch those guys compete." -- Roberts


Caleb Ferguson makes career start No. 3 against Chris Stratton and the Giants in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. PT Father's Day series finale. Ferguson's four-inning start against Texas on Tuesday was a considerable improvement from a 1 2/3-inning MLB debut. Seven baserunners were still too many, but he kept the game winnable.