LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The opening game of the World Series confirmed it was still Justin Turner’s world and the championship hopes of the Los Angeles Dodgers orbit around his uppercut swing.
Turner’s magical post-season reached new heights on Tuesday when he incited the Dodgers and their home crowd with a two-run home run in the sixth inning that helped package a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros.
“Post-season is definitely a lot more fun,” Turner told reporters. “Just to be in the moment and look around and see almost 60,000 people in Dodger Stadium on their feet going crazy, it’s pretty special.”
When Turner snapped a 1-1 tie with a soaring blast that cleared the fence in left-center field it evoked memories of the Dodgers’ most famous home run 29 years ago.
Kirk Gibson sparked the Dodgers with a walk-off blast in Game One of the 1988 World Series, then memorably hobbled around the bases.
Turner’s shot was not nearly as dramatic, but should the Dodgers go on to claim the title it will surely live on in Dodgers lore.
A pitcher’s duel between Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw and Houston’s Dallas Keuchel was the early story of Game One and the game’s quick rhythm kept the crowd in check.
But the Los Angeles faithful finally let loose when Turner rose to the occasion in the sixth, and chants of ‘Just-in!’ filled the air.
“This place was the most electric I’ve ever seen it,” said Turner of Dodger Stadium. “It should be, (it‘s) the first World Series here in 29 years.”
The lasting ovation was more than a nod to his timely home run but a celebration of his 2017 playoff heroics as a whole. The red-hot third baseman has hit safely in all nine playoff games, as the Dodgers have posted an 8-1 record and tallied a franchise-record 13 RBIs in these playoffs.
But more than the numbers, Turner’s playoff run has been about moments.
There was the three-run, walk-off blast that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 best-of-seven command against the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series; and the tone-setting, three-run homer in the first inning of the team’s playoff opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Turner is carving out quite the post-season legacy.
“He just comes up with big hits,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “It’s hard to explain. He’s that guy that you want in the big spots, and he doesn’t scare off.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly