Dubon dazzles on defense, collects his first hit
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mauricio Dubon grew up idolizing Brandon Crawford, wearing his jersey to Giants games at China Basin and modeling his defense after the Gold Glove-winning shortstop.
On Thursday night, Dubon made his Giants debut as Crawford’s double-play partner, starting at second base and batting eighth in a 5-3 series-opening loss to the Padres at Oracle Park.
Dubon finished 1-for-3, singling to right field for his first Major League hit in the fifth inning, and added a fantastic diving stop in the second, showcasing the athleticism and upside that drew the Giants to the 25-year-old infield prospect at the July 31 Trade Deadline.
“The kid had a nice night,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He made a great play on the backhand there. A nice hit going the other way. He played well defensively. He showed his athleticism. That’s a good start for him.”
While he wasn’t nervous before the game, Dubon said he looked around the infield in the first inning and took a moment to soak in the fact that he was now playing alongside a trio of players he admired in his youth. To his right were Crawford and third baseman Evan Longoria. To his left was first baseman Brandon Belt.
“And then I looked down, and I was like, ‘Oh, here’s me!’” Dubon said. “It was pretty special, sharing the infield with them.”
Aquired from the Brewers in exchange for Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black, Dubon was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday after the Giants opted to cut veteran second baseman Scooter Gennett. Dubon made his Major League debut with Milwaukee in July and went 0-for-2 in two plate appearances, but it didn’t take long for him to collect his first hit with the Giants.
After flying out in his first at-bat against Padres right-hander Chris Paddack, Dubon shot a first-pitch fastball to right field for his first hit in the fifth, earning a standing ovation from the 33,135 fans at Oracle Park. Among those in attendance were the Ritcheys and the Garcias, the host families who played instrumental roles in Dubon’s path to the Majors.
Born and raised in Honduras, Dubon left his home at 15 to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball. He moved in with the Ritcheys in Sacramento, where he enrolled at Capital Christian High School and became a rabid Giants fan. Dubon attended his first Major League baseball game in San Francisco and told his host mom, Sandy Ritchey, that he would play here one day. He plans to give her his first-hit ball now that he’s fulfilled that promise.
“It’s crazy,” Dubon said. “It’s funny because as soon as I got the hit, I looked up, and they were cheering. It was emotional.”
Dubon also made an impression with his glove, making one of the Giants’ two diving plays to help right-hander Dereck Rodríguez escape the second inning.
After Wil Myers broke for second base with one out, Dubon moved forward to cover the bag and prepare to receive a throw. He ended up on the shortstop side of second base after diving to snag a ground ball off the bat of Ty France. Mike Yastrzemski then robbed Luis Urias with a diving catch in right field to end the inning.
“Those were some big plays,” said Rodriguez, who was charged with the loss after giving up five runs over five innings. “Obviously, Dubon, everybody knows about his glove. It was nice for the fans to see that.”
The Giants expect to see more of Dubon moving forward, as he will split time with Crawford and Donovan Solano at the middle-infield spots over the final month of the season. Even before his memorable debut, Dubon had already started to win over the Giants with his upbeat personality and confidence.
“He’s a fun personality,” Bochy said. “He loves the game. He’s got a great attitude.”