Dodgers take 2-0 NLCS lead over Cubs after walk-off win
As far as baseball drama, it does not get much better than a walk-off postseason home run and Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman provided that special moment against the Chicago Cubs.
Turner hit a three-run walk-off shot in the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 4-1 win over reigning MLB World Series champions the Cubs and a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series on Sunday.
It was only the second walk-off playoff home run in Dodgers history. The other, Kirk Gibson's famous homer in the 1988 World Series, came 29 years ago to the day of Turner's home run.
Now the NLCS heads to Wrigley Field for the next three games, and if the Cubs cannot locate their bats, this series probably will not return to the West Coast.
TURNER HAS TURNED INTO AN UNLIKELY POSTSEASON HERO FOR DODGERS
Postseason play can create the most unlikely heroes. Think St Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese, the MVP of the 2011 World Series, or infielder David Eckstein, who starred in the playoffs for both the 2002 Los Angeles Angels and the 2006 Cards. Turner is having that kind of playoff run for the Dodgers.
The 32-year-old made his first All-Star game this season, and has been a valuable contributor in his four seasons in LA, but he has taken on star status this October. He is nine for 21 (.429), with two home runs and 10 RBIs in five postseason games. His walk-off home run to win game two on Sunday will live on in Dodgers lore. But do not forget that Turner got Los Angeles off to a good start in the postseason with a home run and five RBIs in the NLDS-opening win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
DODGERS BULLPEN IS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD
In two games, the Dodgers bullpen has retired 24 of the 25 batters it has faced, with only Anthony Rizzo reaching base via a hit by pitch. One could argue the Cubs' hitting slump has contributed to that, but the Dodgers' pen has been stout all year. Closer Kenley Jansen gets most of the publicity, but overall the Dodgers had the fourth-best bullpen ERA in baseball this season (3.38 ERA). They have been even stingier in the postseason, with a 1.37 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19.6 innings.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CUBS' OFFENCE?
The Cubs averaged 5.07 runs per game in the regular season, fourth-best mark in baseball, behind only the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees and the Colorado Rockies. But their offence has been shut down in the postseason. Throw out the Cubs' nine-run explosion in their 9-8 win against the Washington Nationals in the decisive game five of the NL Division Series, and Chicago scored only eight runs in the other four games. Now they have tallied three runs in two games in the NLCS.
It is not just two or three players who are slumping; the entire line-up is cold. Of the 10 Cubs with eight or more postseason at-bats, nine are hitting .222 or less; the exception, Albert Almora Jr., is at .231. Six of those batters are hitting below .200, and Javier Baez is on another level entirely, standing a hitless 0 for 19 in the postseason. This slumping line-up looks like the struggling early season Cubs instead of the team that seized control of the NL Central in the second half.
TURNER BRINGS DODGERS HOME
Turner achieved something not many Dodgers players have managed to do in the playoffs.
DODGERS AT CUBS
In his first postseason start with the Dodgers, Yu Darvish pitched well but lasted only five innings against the Diamondbacks, striking out seven and giving up a pair of hits and an earned run. He will face Kyle Hendricks, who in two starts against the Nationals in the NLDS looked almost unhittable in one game (seven shutout innings, two hits) and dreadful in another (four earned runs in four innings).