Charlie Culberson Enjoys First Start In Dodgers-Giants Rivalry
Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

For a second consecutive game, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants played into the 10th inning. However, Saturday afternoon’s matchup of Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner was hardly the picturesque setting deserving for two aces.

First pitch was delayed 45 minutes due to rain, which came and went throughout the game. In facing the left-handed Bumgarner, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sat multiple starters who hit left-handed; Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Chase Utley.

That translated to Charlie Culberson (shortstop) and Trayce Thompson (center field) making their first career starts with the Dodgers, while Scott Van Slyke (left field) was in the lineup a second consecutive game.

However, Van Slyke was removed in the third due to lower back tightness. That brought Pederson in off the bench and slid Thompson to left field. But, as the game unfolded and Roberts maneuvered his chess pieces, it left the Dodgers in a precarious position.

Culberson moved to left field in the eighth inning and the Dodgers were out of position players when Micah Johnson pinch-hit for Kershaw in the ninth. Johnson traveled from Nashville to join the club during the game after getting recalled with Carl Crawford going on the disabled list.

Naturally, Culberson was quickly tested after moving from shortstop to left field. He answered the challenge, making a terrific diving catch in left-center field to end the eighth. Culberson then hit the go-ahead double in the 10th that proved to be the difference.

After the Dodgers’ extra-innings win, Culberson, who was drafted by the Giants in 2007 and played in six games with them in 2012, couldn’t help but speak fondly of his first significant experience in the storied rivalry, via Ken Gurnick of

“It’s always fun playing here, the crowd is always in the game, and at certain points the stadium is like rumbling,” Culberson said. “To come back here, playing against them, now I see how intense it is — Dodgers-Giants. For today to be the sixth game of the year, at certain points — I’ve never played in the postseason but it felt like postseason baseball in the sixth game of the year. As a kid, that’s what I picture myself being in. A lot of fun.”

Culberson signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers last November and it included a non-roster invite to Spring Training. He appeared in 27 Cactus League games, batting .302/.373/.528 with two doubles, two triples, two home runs and 14 RBIs, while playing second base, third base and shortstop.

He earned a spot on the Dodgers’ active roster thanks in large part to Howie Kendrick beginning the year on the DL with a strained left calf. Culberson only appeared in five games for the Colorado Rockies’ Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate in 2015 before undergoing season-ending back surgery in May.

His best season with the Rockies came in 2013, when he hit .293/.317/.404 with a .312 wOBA and 79 wRC+ over 47 games. However, Culberson then struggled in a role off the bench in 2014. That season, appearing in 95 games, he batted .195/.253/.290 with 62 strikeouts in 233 plate appearances.