Justin Turner is an October hero for the Dodgers

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8th-inning HR was the difference in Game 2 of the NLCS

For the second year in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers won Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on a Justin Turner home run.

Down one in the eighth inning and six outs away from a 2-0 deficit, Turner took Jeremy Jeffress deep to beat the Milwaukee Brewers and even the series.

It was the latest in a string of key hits during his Dodgers tenure, which began as a non-roster invitee to spring training in 2014. Turner in his postseason career is hitting .319/.439/.556 with a Dodgers franchise-record 29 RBI.

Among major leaguers with 75 plate appearances in the postseason, Turner’s .439 on-base percentage ranks third all-time, behind a couple guys named Lou Gehrig (.483) and Babe Ruth (.470).

Turner won Game 2 of last year’s NLCS with a walk-off home run to beat the Cubs, the first postseason walk-off for the Dodgers since Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series.

Turner has five postseason home runs since the start of 2017, and four have given the Dodgers the lead. Four were hit in the sixth inning or later.

As Turner goes, so go the Dodgers, really. He suffered a fracture in his wrist in the final week of spring training and missed the first 40 games of the season. There were many factors involved, but it’s not a coincidence that the Dodgers started 16-24. After Turner was activated Los Angeles went 76-47, the best record in the National League.

“If you’re talking about the grind, the tough conversations, the identity of our ball club, he’s probably the face,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He personifies everything that I believe in as a baseball player, as a professional.”

He hit .312/.406/.518 during the season, ranking third among NL hitters with a 154 wRC+, trailing only NLCS-mates Christian Yelich and Max Muncy.

That’s why it was a surprise when Turner was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in Game 1 of the NLCS. It was the first four-strikeout game of Turner’s career, in his 975th game, and just the second time in his last 21 postseason games that he failed to reach base.

“It wasn’t a very good game for me. But that’s baseball. If you play this game long enough, it’s bound to happen” Turner told Ken Rosenthal on the Fox broadcast after the game. “You just shrug it off and move on to the next day.”

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