Yankees hit three grand slams, pummel A’s 22-9

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It wasn’t a pretty game, but the Yankees avoided what would have been a rare three-game sweep at home by scoring 20 runs between the fifth and eighth innings and made some history in torching the A’s 22-9.

The game featured grand slams from Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson.  It’s the first time ever that a team has hit three slams in a game.

It was just the fourth time in Yankees history that the team has hit multiple grand slams in the same game and the first time they’ve done it at home.  Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill were the last Yankees to accomplish the feat, doing so on Sept. 14, 1999.

Martin finished the game a remarkable 5-for-5 with two homers, six RBI and a walk.  Yankee Stadium is the only place in the world that he has opposite-field power, and both of his homers were out to right field today.  According to Baseball-Reference data, just three of his previous 69 career homers had gone out to right.

The Yankees ended the game with 21 hits and 13 walks.  Only one of those walks came in Rich Harden’s 4 1/3 innings; the rest were from the pen.  Jordan Norberto gave up four runs on five walks and one hit in two-thirds of an inning.  Bruce Billings, making his fourth major league appearance, walked four in 1 1/3 innings.

The 13 walks surrendered by A’s pitching were two more than any other team had given up in a nine-inning game this season and matched the high for a game of any length.

All three slam hitters ended up with at least five RBI for the Yankees.  Granderson also scored four runs to go along with his five RBI.  Derek Jeter actually had three hits and hit with the bases loaded four times, but his lone RBI came on a walk.  Every Yankees starter except Alex Rodriguez drove in at least one run, and A-Rod finished 2-for-4 with two walks and three runs scored.  Just to punctuate things in the eighth, Andruw Jones followed up Granderson’s slam with a homer in his lone at-bat off the bench.

The one bit of bad news for the Yankees: Phil Hughes had to be pulled in the third having given up six runs and seven hits.  A.J. Burnett did his best to punch his ticket to the pen with last weekend’s ugly outing against the Twins, but Hughes really hurt himself today.  Oddly enough, both of his terrible performances since returning from the DL have come against the A’s; he hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his other seven starts.

With the game having turned into a laugher, Jorge Posada made his major league debut at second base in the ninth.  He was originally a second baseman in the minors, and he made the game-ending play today on an Anthony Recker grounder, though he bounced the throw to first.

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.