Rangers beat Tigers thanks to blown call

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Aided by a blown call that gave Texas a run in the top of the 11th, the Rangers edged the Tigers 3-2 on Sunday to claim the four-game series and maintain the game’s best record at 13-3.

The Rangers loaded the bases with no outs in the 11th versus reliever Thad Weber, who was making his major league debut. Alberto Gonzalez, who was starting in Adrian Beltre’s place, then attempted a suicide squeeze, but the pitch was high and the bunt went straight down and hit him in the knee before bouncing into fair territory. Unfortunately, none of the umpires noticed the body contact, and the suicide proved successful. In fact, the Tigers didn’t even get an out on the play because no one covered first after Weber fielded the ball.

To home plate umpire Tim Welke’s credit, he did meet with the other umpires after Tigers manager Jim Leyland came out to complain. Still, the call stood. Instant replay would have made it obvious that the ball hit his knee and changed directions, but we can’t have that, can we?

Weber got out of the jam from there, but the damage was done, and the Tigers couldn’t score off Joe Nathan in the bottom of the 11th. They lost three out of four to Texas at home to drop to 10-6 on the 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.