Turner turning up the Dodgers to 2-0 lead in NLCS
October 17, 2017 3:07 AM
by Ramon Scott
Long Beach’s Justin Turner hit the biggest home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise in exactly 29 years Sunday night, putting the team within two games of a long-awaited return to the World Series and a possible meeting with the Houston Astros and likely AL Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve.
Turner’s three-run walk-off clout off the Cubs’ John Lackey gave the Blue Crew a 2-0 lead, thanks in large part to a bullpen that has thrown eight-straight no-hit innings over the first two games.
J.T. has been unbelievably clutch with a .429 average this postseason with now two home runs and 10 RBIs.
He is a remarkable 13-for-18 with runners in scoring position in his four career postseason appearances.
Now, suddenly sensational Yu Darvish will take the Wrigley Field mound tonight (6 p.m., TBS).
He will try try to help move Los Angeles back to the Fall Classic for the first time since Kirk Gibson’s improbable pinch-hit shot off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic propelled the Dodgers to their last title.
Darvish allowed just two hits to beat Arizona and Zack Greinke, 3-1, and goes up against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks in Game 3.
Darvish holds this Cubs’ postseason roster to just a .195 average over 50 PAs and is 3-1 on the road with a 2.30 ERA since arriving in Southern California.
Hendricks was terrific in outlasting dominant Stephen Strasburg, but flopped in the rain after four innings in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Nationals before Chicago could rescue itself for a 9-8 win and advance here to the NL Championship Series.
Hendricks, who hails from Newport Beach, Calif., has been pretty stingy against this Dodger roster, allowing just a .123 average over 62 PAs. The early weather forecast at Wrigley calls for winds out to CF of 13-to-14 mph throughout the game.
Momentum has given L.A, a bit of a push by the public and will be a favorite heading into this game despite the fact the Dodgers haven’t played east of the central time zone in almost a month.
The lack of depth in the Cubs’ bullpen also contributes to their uphill climb at this point, also lending road favoritism to the Dodgers in Game 3. Chicago could only muster three hits on Sunday evening against five Dodger hurlers.
In Wednesday’s Game 4 (6 p.m., TBS), the Dodgers send lefty Alex Wood up against Jake Arrieta.
Wood, as marvelous as he was during the regular season, is making his debut in these playoffs, which is a testament to how strong the starting pitching, and bullpen for that matter, has been for Los Angeles. Wood allows just a .229 mark to these Cubs over 82 PAs, while Arrieta has been equally as tough on these Dodger bats with just a .182 average allowed over 109 PAs.
Game 5, if necessary, would be Thursday (5 p.m., TBS) at the friendly confines. The series could return to Los Angeles on Saturday.
The Astros won the opening two games of the American League Championship Series, but were still the 7-to-5 second choice behind the Dodgers (5-to-8) to win the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Game 3 was Monday in New York as the Yankees tried to regain their own offensive form after scoring just two runs in Houston.
Slugging rookie Aaron Judge has performed like a star-struck kid, swinging aimlessly with a 4-for-31 mark and 19 strikeouts during the in postseason. Judge has struck out more times during these playoffs than Tony Gwynn did during the entire 1985 season.
The Yanks as a team, meanwhile, have hit just .158 versus Astros pitching in the playoffs.
Houston’s Altuve is looking to add a World Series title as he continues to build his Hall of Fame resume. Meanwhile, young star shortstop Carlos Correa showed his big game heroics with a home run and the walk-off double on Saturday.
Tuesday’s Game 4 (2 p.m., FS1) is an afternoon start matching Sonny Gray for the Yanks and possibly Dallas Keuchel on three days rest or one of the several bullpen ‘tweeners, who have ended up doing a yeoman’s job for the most part when called upon to this point and stands fresh heading into Monday after deep starts by Kuechel and Justin Verlander.
The Yankees could grab the favoritism for Game 4 with an impressive victory on Monday along with A.J. Hinch electing to go with a fourth starter, but that result could change the skipper’s plans.
Game 5, if necessary, would be right back at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday (2 p.m., FS1), with the series possibly returning to Houston starting Friday.
Given the way the trailing duo performed on the road, few fans outside of those pulling for the Yanks and Cubbies are rooting for any kind of a series comeback. They would rather see a bit of a renewal of an old National League West rivalry.