And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Rays 1, Yankees 0: Zeros through ten innings, eight a piece for CC Sabathia and David Price. Then the bullpens took over. Joe Girardi had everyone scratching their heads with his choice of relievers for the ninth and extras: Kerry Wood, Boone Logan, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. Girardi said after the game that Joba needed more rest, which is strange, given that he hasn’t pitched since Friday. Same with Robertson, though that’s a bit more understandable given that he threw 36 pitches on Saturday and he usually gets a couple of days off after games like that. Rivera? Being held out in case a save situation arose. Whatever, Joe, it’s not like this was a series that’ll decide the division or anything . . . Still, Wood, Logan and Gaudin got it done, more or less. Mitre was a palooka too far, though, and he gave up the walkoff homer to Reid Brignac.

Mets 1, Pirates 0: This one was 0-0 through nine as well. Then Joe Girardi telepathically willed John Russell to put in Chan Ho Park for the tenth, allowing Tejada to double and Evans to single him home. Dillion Gee went six and three relievers combined for the other four shutout innings for the Mets.

Padres 6, Rockies 4: A big win for San Diego keeps the Rockies at bay and pushes the Padres ahead of the Giants by a half game. Miguel Tejada drove in four. It’s the first time the Padres have scored five runs or more in weeks. Colorado’s winning streak ends at ten.

Phillies 11, Marlins 4: Four RBI for Chooch Ruiz and homers from Werth, Utley and Dobbs (one of these things/is not like the others/one of these things/just isn’t the same).

Braves 4, Nationals 0: My reverse-jinx/whatever from HBT Daily continues, as yesterday I said Derek Lowe wasn’t very good and last night he threw eight shutout innings with 12 strikeouts. I also said that Jair Jurrjens was running out of gas, so I fully expect him to throw 13 shutout innings tonight.

Athletics 3, Royals 1: Bobby Cramer made his MLB debut and got the win,
allowing one run on four hits in five and a third. According to the game
story, Cramer was out of baseball in 2005-06 and during that time was a
substitute high school teacher and worked on oil pipelines. Then
he played in the independent leagues and then on to the Mexican League. I
haven’t seen a picture of the guy yet, but are we sure Cramer isn’t
really Kenny Powers?

Astros 4, Brewers 2: Houston is 29-16 since trading Roy Oswalt away, which is not exactly what I would have expected. Going all-in with Brett Myers is definitely paying off as he has yet another damn fine start (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 10K). Prince Fielder sat this one out with flu-like symptoms. It’s the first action he’s missed in 327 games.

Reds 7, Diamondbacks 2: Two bombs for Jay Bruce in his first game back in two weeks. With this win the Reds (a) clinch a winning season; and (b) eliminate the Cubs from the playoff hunt. It’s a math thing. I know the Cubs didn’t think they were hunting anymore.

Cubs 5, Cardinals 1: The Cards have been thinking they were hunting, but they’re pretty much out of ammo at this point. How they got blanked by Jeff Samardzija is a friggin’ mystery.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: Another extra innings affair, this one with some actual runs scored in regulation. Luke Scott hits the walkoff RBI single. The Orioles bat the Jays for the first time in 13 tries this season. All of those were back in the Trembley/Samuel dark ages, though.

Red Sox 5, Mariners 1: Jon Lester was tough: he struck out 12 Mariners and surrendered only three hits over eight innings. The start put him over 200 Ks for the year for the second straight year.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.