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By Jon Weisman
It was the worst of déjà vu, it was the best of déjà vu.
Justin Turner had Dodger fans shaking their heads in disbelief when he was hit by pitch in the first inning of the Dodgers’ first road playoff Game 1 since 2013 in St. Louis — the night Hanley Ramirez’s rib was fractured by a pitch.
But rather than neutralizing the slugging third baseman, fate presented a happier bit of “been there, seen that” tonight in Washington.
With one on and two out in the top of the third, Turner hit a two-run homer off Max Scherzer, providing two insurance runs that the Dodgers very much cashed in for a 4-3 National League Division Series victory.
Moments after Corey Seager’s homer put the Dodgers up 1-0 in the top of the first, Turner took an 87 mph offering from Max Scherzer to the left hand.
“He threw a backup slider,” Turner said in an on-field interview after the game. “I was looking for a break, but it ran up and in and got me on the hand. It swelled up pretty good, but there’s no way I’m coming out of this game.”
When he came up next, the Dodgers had increased their lead to 2-0 on Chase Utley’s RBI single, and it almost seemed greedy to ask Turner for more at that point. But he delivered the goods before anyone hardly had time to make the request.
“I got an 0-0 curveball up in the zone and put a good swing on it, and got just enough of it to get over the fence,” Turner said.
For Turner, it was another milestone for someone who has been a phenomenal postseason player for the past 364 days — the first career playoff homer after he set an NLDS record with six doubles in 2015.
Thanks to the HBP and a sixth-inning single, Turner is now 12 for 24 in his playoff career with .538 on-base percentage and .875 slugging percentage. He broke a tie with Billy Cox (1952-53) by getting at least two total bases in six consecutive postseason games.
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Apparently, the break between the regular season and the playoffs didn’t bother Turner — nor Seager.
“Yeah, it was funny,” Turner said of his fellow infielder. We were talking right before the game, and he said, ‘Man, we’ve had five days off — I don’t know if I want to swing first pitch or not.’ And then he hits a homer on the first pitch. I said, ‘I guess you made up your mind to swing.’ He’s a special player — he’s been great for us all year, coming up with big hits, and he did it again tonight.”
Ha! See myself there as the only one standing in the first row just above and to the right of the 6:31 sign. Very few dodger fans as compared to regular season games. Felt really weird being in a stadium with all those people rooting against my team.
It’s great to take the first game and to do it in the usual 2016 fashion, with thestarter chugging through a few inning and the bullpen shinning the rest of the way.