Justin Turner drove what could be a fatal blow to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night, blasting a three-run walk-off home run to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.
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Date: Tuesday, March 20
Time: 2:05 AM
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The homer came 29 years to the day after Kirk Gibson’s famous walk-off blast in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
“One of my earliest baseball memories was being at my grandma’s house and watching that game in ’88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer,” Turner told reporters afterward. “So, yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist-pump around the bases, but we’ll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully.”
Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor both drew walks earlier in the ninth to set up Turner, who drove in all four runs of the Dodgers win. He has recorded at least one hit in every game this postseason and has multiple hits in three of Los Angeles’ five games, all of which were wins.
“Once that walk occurred, all bets were off against Turner,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters. “Nobody is a really great matchup against Turner, so it just did not work out.”
The Dodgers, who have not made the World Series since 1988, are now in the proverbial driver’s seat and two wins away from exorcising their NLCS demons. They have made the NLCS six times in the last decade; the previous five all resulted in losses.
The Cubs sent Los Angeles home in six games last season on their way to winning a World Series.
“A heartbreaker for who?” Cubs pitcher John Lester, who gave up one run on three hits over 4.2 innings, asked reporters. “It’s a loss. We’re not over. We’re not done. Guys walked in here upbeat, ready to go for Tuesday. We had some music playing before you guys (media) got in here. We’ve all lost games before. We’ve all lost series before. So we’ll move on to Tuesday.”
The series moves to Chicago on Tuesday, where the Cubs will hope Kyle Hendricks can outduel Yu Darvish. Hendricks’ two starts this season have gone in opposite directions, though both finished in Cubs wins.
The right-hander gave up four runs in four innings of work in the Cubs’ Game 5 victory over the Washington Nationals in the NLDS.
Darvish gave up only one earned run in five innings in his lone postseason start, a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was in the game for just 74 pitches. The Dodgers have kept him to a conservative pitch count since his arrival from the Texas Rangers; Darvish has only reached 100 pitches once in 10 starts.
The Dodgers’ deep pitching staff is an issue for a Cubs lineup that has struggled to score all postseason despite finishing fourth in runs scored during the regular season.