Kiké Hernandez: Jack of All Trades, Master Against Lefties

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(Photo Credit: imgandpics.com)

While he didn’t manage to rescue a swallowed baby jackrabbit from the stomach of a fierce rattlesnake, super utility man Enrique Hernandez was able to spearhead his team’s offensive attack on Friday, leading the Dodgers to a 7-3 victory over the Giants  in front of a sellout crowd on Jackie Robinson Day.

Hernandez ended his evening going 3-for-5, including two home runs, a double, two runs scored and four RBI — all of which came against Giants’ southpaw Madison Bumgarner.

Although he has hit only 12 home runs in his entire career, three have come against Bumgarner.

The four RBI tied a career high, previously set in September 2014 while with the Marlins. Against left-handed pitching this season, Hernandez is hitting .727 (8-for-11) with two home runs and two doubles.

“That’s just great. Kiké when he gets an opportunity to play is aggressive in the strike zone. For him to set the tempo and tone for us tonight, it was great,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To get a great pitcher like Bumgarner on the first pitch with the Rickey Rally, that was big for us. Then he backed it up with another one.”

The “Rickey Rally” was a reference to Hall of Fame outfielder Rickey Henderson, who hit a major league-record 81 leadoff home runs in his career.

Out of the leadoff spot this season, Hernandez is now 9-for-15 (.600) with six RBI and four runs scored.

In case anyone missed the magical moment in the first inning, here’s a quick look at the very first pitch of the game that ended up in the left field stands:

Hernandez also contributed mightily with his glove, stymying a Giants rally in the third inning after robbing Buster Posey of at least a single with a forward diving catch.

“That was a big play,” winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw said of Hernandez’s catch in left field. “He plays a lot of positions really well, always seems to be in the right spot. Just a great game for him all the way around.”

Roberts has said numerous times that Hernandez will be a steady force in the Dodgers’ lineup against left-handed pitching. Last season, Hernández slashed .423/.471/.744 in 87 plate appearances against lefties, while hitting only .234/.262/.331 in 131 plate appearances vs. right-handed pitching.

Batting leadoff against Arizona starter Robbie Ray on Thursday, Hernandez went 2-for-3, and was instrumental in the Dodgers’ 5-2 comeback victory with a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning.

In the second game of the three-game set, the Giants will send righty Johnny Cueto to the mound on Saturday, while the Dodgers counter with lefty Scott Kazmir. Hernandez will play left field and bat sixth.

First pitch is slated for 6:10 p.m. local time.

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