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Justin Turner restores his World Series groove and sparks Dodgers in win

By Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

ARLINGTON, Texas — Every time Justin Turner's bat used to heat up, the rest of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup would go cold.

It had become an annual explanation behind the team's past playoff eliminations, Turner's strong performances never enough on their own to save the club from five straight October failures.

Finally, help has arrived. This year, the Dodgers haven't needed Turner to pick up the slack. For long stretches, he's even struggled. They're two wins from a title nonetheless.

"This postseason in particular hasn't been that great for me personally," Turner said Friday, after hitting a home run and a double in the team's 6-2 win in Game 3 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. "But I've been grinding away and working with our hitting guys and finally felt a little bit better tonight."

Indeed, this has been Turner's least-productive postseason by the numbers. In the final year of his contract, the 35-year-old entered Friday with a .216 batting average in the playoffs, his worst since going hitless in two playoff games in 2014.

Yet, the red-headed veteran had still picked key spots to shine. Game 3 became the latest example.

 

With the team coming off its first loss in five games, Turner got them off to a quick start in the first inning, turning Rays starter Charlie Morton's high fastball into a solo home run that gave the team an early lead.

It was Turner's 11th career playoff homer, tying Duke Snider for the franchise's all-time record. It was the Dodgers' 46th run scored with two outs in the postseason, tying an MLB record in the wild card era (which dates back to 1999).

There were again two outs for Turner's next at-bat in the third, when he fought off a 2-2 sinker from Morton before lining a curveball into left for a double. That hit tied him with Chipper Jones for the most postseason doubles by a third baseman in MLB history.

And when Max Muncy drove Turner and Corey Seager (who had been hit by a pitch in the inning) home in the next at-bat, it gave the Dodgers the two-out runs record all to themselves. Their total had reached 50 by the end of the night.

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