Justin Turner is one of the biggest success stories in the history of the Dodgers, and he continues to produce as the stage gets larger. The third baseman will try for more success and a 2-0 series lead over the Nationals in Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday afternoon in Washington D.C.
Turner hit a two-run home run in the third inning and later singled in the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory on Friday in Game 1. Not only were the runs needed by the Dodgers, but they came after a brief scare in the first inning when Turner was hit by a pitch on his left hand, a slider from Max Scherzer.
“In these games, there's no way, I don't think any of us are coming out of them,” Turner told reporters after the win. “So tape it up and put a pad on my batting glove and get back out there.”
Turner saw limited time in the 2014 NLDS, going 0-for-2 as a pinch hitter, but last year in the playoffs, by then the Dodgers’ regular third baseman, Turner was on fire, hitting six doubles while hitting .526 (10-for-19) in five games against the Mets.
Add in his two hits on Friday, Turner is now 12-for-24 (.500) in the postseason, and with his seven extra-base hits sports a slugging percentage of .875.
Including the hit by pitch, Turner reached base three times in Game 1, and has a postseason streak of six straight games reaching base at least twice. That’s the third-longest streak in Dodgers postseason history, trailing only Manny Ramirez (9 games, 2008-09) and Pee Wee Reese (7 games, 1949-52).
Not bad for Turner’s first six postseason starts.
“I like playing in them, first of all, having the opportunity. Just trying to get good pitches to hit and staying in the zone,” Turner said. “Usually, when you swing at good pitches, you get pretty good results. I did a good job tonight swinging at strikes and got good results.”
Ever since Turner signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers before the 2014 season, he has done a great job of swinging at good pitches, and the results have followed.
Since the start of 2014, Turner has hit .296/.364/.492, and among the 235 major league hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances during that span Turner’s 138 wRC+ (where 100 is average, and being above is a good thing) ranks 18th.
He has blossomed from a utility man in 2014, to the regular third baseman last year, to — following microfracture surgery on his left knee last November — a fully healthy everyday player who played in a career-high 151 games in 2016 and has become an indispensable part of the heart of the Dodgers batting order.
“ I don't know what happened but obviously my career has kind of taken a turn for the better once I put the Dodger uniform on,” Turner said. “I couldn't be happier to be here and share the same uniform as this guy [Kenley Jansen, sitting next to him] and the rest of the guys, and be on a team that from day one is all about winning.”
Game 2 info
Series: Dodgers lead Nationals, 1-0
Where: Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
Time: 1:08 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Kenny Albert, Tom Verudcci, Harold Reynolds, Jon Morosi)
Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dave O’Brien, Jim Bowden)