Have a night, Justin Turner

When people think of former Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, they usually associate him with the blockbuster trade he made with the Boston Red Sox on August 25, 2012 that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the team in exchange for beloved former Dodger James Loney, infield prospect Iván De Jesus Jr., and top pitching prospect Allen Webster. At the time, Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy called the trade “the biggest Red Sox trade since Babe Ruth was dealt to the Yankees for cash in 1920.” And while Shaughnessy’s claim is most certainly debatable, it is impossible to dispute that the Dodgers clearly won the trade.

But Colletti made another acquisition prior to his dismissal on October 14, 2014, this one occurring on February 5, 2014. Here’s what then Dodgers beat writer Austin Laymance wrote about Colletti acquiring utility infielder Justin Turner from the New York Mets:

“The Dodgers on Wednesday signed veteran infielder Justin Turner to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Turner, 29, has appeared at all four infield positions over parts of five big league seasons with the Orioles and Mets, with the majority of his experience coming at second base. He’s expected to compete with Chone FigginsDee Gordon and Brendan Harris as insurance at second behind Cuban rookie Alex Guerrero, who is unproven at the Major League level and is transitioning from his natural position of shortstop.”

Shortly after the trade, the then 29-year-old Long Beach, California native and lifelong Dodger fan posted this on Twitter, on which he is still very active:

“Excited to officially be a #Dodger!!! Looking forward to great year & chance to play close to home #LA #SoCal @Dodgers #Blue”

It’s probably safe to say that no one, not even Ned Colletti, knew what they were getting at the time.

Lo and behold, here we are three and a half years and four MLB seasons later, and all the 5′-11″ / 205-pound (now) 32-year-old Dodgers third baseman has done is nearly win two Gold Gloves, be voted onto the 2017 National League All-Star team (via the fan vote – and by a very wide margin) while compiling a remarkable slash-line of .303 / .378 / .502 / for an OPS of .881 in his four seasons as the Dodgers everyday third baseman. He also just narrowly missed being the 2017 National League batting champ with his .322 average by a mere .009 behind Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon (.331) and tied with Washington Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy.

On Friday night in game-1 of the 2017 National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Turner yet again made former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti a genius by leading his teammates to a resounding 9-5 win over the snakes in front of a sold out Dodger Stadium crowd of 54,707 in a record-setting performance. Turner went 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk, while driving in five runs to tie a Dodgers franchise record for most RBIs in a postseason game and upped his remarkable postseason batting average to .383 (23-for-60) with his now six doubles, one triple, three home runs and 17 RBI.

Turner’s first inning home run off of Dbacks starter Taijuan Walker staked the Dodgers and Kershaw to an early three-run lead, which is always a good thing. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Three of Turner’s five RBI on the night came in the first inning when he absolutely crushed a 93.4-mph fastball off of Dbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker that landed 416 feet into the Left Field Pavilion of Dodger Stadium. Another RBI came on a single to center field in the fourth inning and the fifth on a single to right in the bottom half of the eighth inning.

“He’s the glue to this club,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Turner after the game. “He’s such a baseball player, making big-time moments, and that was a huge lift for us.”

Glue indeed. Although the Dodgers haven’t had an official team captain in decades, there isn’t anyone who would argue that the heavily-bearded redhead is the unofficial team leader both on and off the field and in the Dodgers clubhouse. But as he often does, and keeping within that team-leader spirit, Turner gave credit to others despite the fact that he nearly single-handedly defeated the Dbacks himself.

“I got to two strikes and I just tried to battle and stay in the zone,” said Turner. “[Walker] threw a fastball in and I put a pretty good swing on it. It felt great to give Kersh a three-run cushion in the first and let him go out and do his thing.”

Although Clayton Kershaw’s thing included giving up a franchise record-tying four postseason home runs in a single game, each was a solo shot that allowed the Dodgers ace and soon-to-be four-time NL Cy Young award winner to remain in the game until the seventh inning, when he allowed two of those home runs back-to-back. But aside from that, the 29-year-old left-hand was brilliant, allowing just those four runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking three in his 6.1 innings of work.

“It just wasn’t coming out as good as I would have liked it to that last inning,” Kershaw told reporters after the game. “I just didn’t have much left, I don’t know.”

Maybe Kershaw didn’t think he had it on Friday night, but everyone else did – including his teammates.
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Justin Turner disagrees.

“I thought he was outstanding and challenged guys, pitching with the lead like he should,” Turner said. “He gave up four solo homers, but who cares. When you have a lead like that, it’s about attacking guys, not giving up free bases and pounding the zone. I thought he was spectacular for us tonight.”

Like he and every good team leader often does, @redturn2 (as Turner is known by on Twitter) expressed his appreciation for the support given to him and his teammates by Dodger fans on Friday night. But, as every good team leader also often does of his teammates, he also asked for more from Dodger fans as well:

You have your assignment Dodger fans.

Play Ball!

 

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3 Responses to “Have a night, Justin Turner”

  1. CruzinBlue says:

    Too many people are panicking about Kersh’s four home-runs allowed. But Turner’s post-game comment hit the nail on the head; “When you have a lead like that, it’s about attacking guys, not giving up free bases and pounding the zone.”

    Kershaw had a comfortable lead and pitched like it by attacking the zone and keeping the D-Bags away from the big inning.

  2. Truebluewill says:

    The bottom line is the Dodgers won the game and that’s all that matters.

  3. oldbrooklynfan says:

    Watching those 4 runs (thanks mostly to Turner), come across the plate in the first inning really calmed the nerves, last night. It’s good to have a 1 game lead in the division series.

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