The drought has ended, and it was vanquished in a big, big way.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are back in the World Series for the first time since 1988, this after throttling the Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field on Thursday. The Dodgers jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back.
While it has been a team effort all season, Justin Turner’s stats, production, personality, and presence have been instrumental for the Dodgers.
“Justin Turner, no doubt about it, he is the leader of this team right now – and he has been all season long,” NBCLA Dodgers reporter Michael Duarte said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He has been the last few years, but I would say he shared that leadership role as the honorary captain of the team. There’s no official (captain), but the unofficial captain of this team has been Justin Turner this year and the past few years. Adrian Gonzalez also shared in that leadership role, but obviously Adrian Gonzalez is on the DL for most of the season, he’s hurt for this postseason, he is nursing his back at home, he hasn’t been with the team. So Justin Turner has been the leader of the team, the unofficial captain.”
Turner was fantastic in the regular season, hitting .322 with 21 homers, 71 RBIs, and a .415 OBP. He’s been just as good, if not better, in the postseason: he’s hitting .387 with three homers, 12 RBIs and a .500 OBP.
And to think, many people thought the Dodgers had lost their way in late-August and early September, when they dropped 16 of 17.
Turner, however, did not.
“In Los Angeles, the local media there was saying the sky was falling,” Duarte said. “But you have a guy like Justin Turner, who, the entire time, said, ‘This will be good for us. We need to feel what it’s like to lose. We need to feel what it’s like to feel disappointment, to not think that we can just go out and have this handed to us. It will make us more focused when the playoffs start.’ And sure enough, he was right. He’s led by example. Seven RBIs this series, including that walk-off Game 2 home run 29 years to the day of Kirk Gibson’s home run.”
Speaking of home runs, Enrique Hernandez. Wow. The 26-year-old clubbed three homers in Game 5, including a grand slam that gave Los Angeles a 7-0 lead in the third inning.
As it turns out, Hernandez, who is from San Juan, entered the night with financial incentive.
“We do know from sources that (Dodgers owner) Mark Walter did pledge to donate money to Hernandez if he (got) on base twice,” Duarte said. “I heard another report that he would even be willing to donate more than $2 million. So we do know that there is millions heading toward Puerto Rican hurricane relief thanks to Hernandez’ performance tonight.”