Ruf, Dubón finally break through as Giants end five-game skid


SAN FRANCISCO -- Just about every part of Buster Posey Day at Oracle Park was filled with joy -- until the Giants got to the bottom of the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Brandon Belt, the longest-tenured Giant now that Posey is retired, grimaced on a swing and came out the game on his first day back from the COVID-19 IL. But after five straight losses, and the worst all-around week of the Gabe Kapler Era, the Giants got good news there, too.

Belt has a stiff neck and is day-to-day, but that's much better than the alternative when a player tightens up on a swing. The mild diagnosis allowed Kapler to fully enjoy a 13-7 win, and after a rough week, he was able to smile during a postgame press conference. 

"The offense, last year we saw them stringing together quality at-bats with walks mixed in there and then some damage mixed in there," Kapler said. "That's what we got today."

The Giants hit three early homers and then piled on the walks late, getting to eight overall. The biggest blow came from Wilmer Flores, who came up three times with the bases loaded and found the seats in the first inning, giving the Giants a 4-1 lead while the ballpark was still buzzing from the Posey ceremony. But the most important homers might have come from Darin Ruf and Mauricio Dubón. 

Ruf entered the day with a .188 batting average and Dubón was at .138. The young shortstop said the staff tells him all the time not to worry about batting average, but it is human nature to feel a bit more pressure when you look up at the scoreboard in May and see such a low number. Both players broke through Saturday. 

Dubón reached base three times and hit a two-run homer to dead center in the second inning, his first of the year. He has played some center field this year and has seen firsthand how the ball appears deadened, so he admitted he was surprised when he was able to break into a jog. 

"I hit it and put my head down and started running because I've seen guys hit the ball and it just dies at the end," Dubón said.

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Three hours later, perhaps Dubón ends up with a double, but the game started at 4:23 p.m. PT -- eight minutes late because of the ceremony -- and the sun was still shining when the Giants took the field. Ruf said he felt his homer might have held up in a different situation, but he also got on the board in the second inning, hitting a two-run shot two batters after Dubón went deep.

"Darin, he needed that. We all needed that," Kapler said. "He had a couple more high-quality plate appearances. I'm looking forward to seeing him get on a roll here."

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