Turner’s big night lifts Dodgers to Game 1 win vs. Diamondbacks
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Since “Mr. October” is already taken, they’ll just have to come up with another nickname for Justin Turner.
Granted, Turner has not played in a single World Series game, so any comparison to Reggie Jackson would fall a little short. But the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman is putting together some impressive postseason numbers.
Turner cracked a three-run home run in the first inning, propelling the Dodgers to a 9-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the National League Division Series Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
Turner finished with the home run, two singles, a walk, five RBIs and a run scored, continuing his postseason prowess that began in 2014. In 19 career postseason games, Turner is hitting .383 (23 for 60) with three homers, 17 RBIs, six doubles and a triple.
“In the playoffs, your numbers, our numbers individually don’t matter,” Turner said when asked about his postseason success. “It’s about doing whatever it takes to win a ballgame. If you make an out, whatever happens, it doesn’t matter. It’s about finding a way to pick up the next guy, and the next guy, and find a way to get it done. And to embrace it, be in the moment and enjoy it.”
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts certainly enjoyed it, impressed by Turner’s ability to slow the game down in high pressure situations.
“It’s innate,” Roberts said. “It can be learned through experience, but J.T. just has that pose for that big moment, and not (try to) do too much. So when a pitcher does make mistakes, he just has a way to capitalize. He just has a way with that big moment.”
Turner’s home run led to a four-run first inning against Diamondbacks starter Taijuan Walker (0-1), giving Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw an early cushion.
“A three-run home run in the first inning is pretty tough to absorb,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s not uncommon, it happens, it’s happened to our group of pitchers. It’s what happened after that where I think it got a little wobbly for (Walker). Had he wiggled out of that jam, this team, we’ve overcome three-run deficits quickly.”
Kershaw (1-0) gave up just five hits in 6 1/3 innings, but four of the hits were solo home runs.
A.J. Pollock homered in the third inning and J.D. Martinez, who also had two singles, homered in the sixth. But when Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis hit back-to-back homers with one out in the seventh, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to 7-4, Kershaw was finished for the night.
“I felt fine, it just wasn’t coming out as good as I would have liked it to that last inning,” Kershaw said. “They hit some good pitches, no, not really, I just didn’t have much left. When you give up hits, you hope maybe one or two stay in the ballpark but tonight it didn’t seem like that was going to happen. Obviously a frustrating way to end it but thankfully we had a big lead.”
Kershaw struck out seven, five of which came in the first two innings, and walked three, earning the victory and improving his career postseason mark to 5-7.
“He’s an elite pitcher and we knew we were going to have to rise up to this challenge,” Lovullo said. “I think we had a good game plan, we hit four home runs off him. I think that’s the first time in his career that’s happened. We have a lot of positives that we’re going to focus on.”
Dodgers relievers Tony Watson and Brandon Morrow bridged the gap from Kershaw to the ninth, where Kenley Jansen gave up an unearned run but closed it out.
The Dodgers got production from the top of their lineup, as Chris Taylor reached base twice (single, walk) and scored twice, and Corey Seager reached base three times (walk, single and triple), scored three times and drove in two. Yasiel Puig added a double, triple and two RBIs.
NOTES: Despite having 59 career postseason games under his belt, Dodgers 2B Chase Utley was not in the starting lineup, INF Logan Forsythe, on getting the nod despite never having played in a postseason game. “Well, obviously I don’t think we could have made a wrong decision,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained. “I think there is a tick better defense from Logan. You’ve got your ace (Kershaw) on the mound and the ability to have Chase on the bench to use him at any point in time to impact the game, I think holds huge value. ... Diamondbacks C Jeff Mathis started instead of regular C Chris Iannetta, leaving some to wonder if some friction between Walker and Iannetta might have had something to do with manager Torey Lovullo’s decision. Lovullo, though, dismissed it. “I know certain things you may have seen throughout the course of the year would give you the feeling that it wasn’t a great relationship,” Lovullo said, “but believe it or not, it’s a strong, kind of pushing forward type of relationship. It really was not a big factor for me.” ... Spotted in the Dodger Stadium crowd for the game were Vin Scully, Tom Hanks, Rob Lowe and Will Ferrell.