And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 6, Phillies 2: Pretty good day for me yesterday. I took Mookie and Carlo to an amusement park and the Braves swept the Phillies. All I needed as a nice steak or something to cap the day and it would have been perfection.  Only the Astros, Rockies and Cubs have a bigger division deficit than the Phillies do in all of baseball.

Dodgers 4, Giants 1: Clayton Kershaw tossed a five-hit shutout to help the Dodgers sweep the Giants and now the NL West essentially tied up.  The Dodgers outscored the Giants 19-3 in the series. I gotta tell ya, I was prepared to watch the Dodgers slowly slip away throughout the second half, but they ain’t doin’ it. Looks like we’ll have a nice little race out there.

Reds 7, Rockies 2: Ten in a row for the Reds. They gotta be hoping Joey Votto doesn’t come back at this point, right?  OK, maybe not. But you know some nudnik is gonna suggest that there’s a chemistry problem when he does come back and the Reds actually stop winning every single baseball game.

Mariners 7, Royals 6: Wait, another sweep? This is starting to look like last weekend. King Felix pitched well but got a no-decision because of his pen. Dude just doesn’t know how to win.

Twins 5, Indians 1: How about one more sweep?  Brian Duensing got the spot start to cover for the departed Francisco Liriano. He had no idea. Found out the news from his Twitter followers and then saw it on the team website. Worked out nice for him all the same (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER)

Cubs 4, Cardinals 2: Anthony Rizzo with the walkoff homer in the tenth, finishing a 3 for 4 day. Walked once too. The dude is hope.

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 1: R.A. Dickey won his 14th game. The Mets split the series, somewhat arresting their precipitous post-break slide.

Rays 2, Angels 0: Zack Greinke made his Angels debut. And, aside from looking weird in that uniform, did OK, allowing two runs in seven innings while punching out eight. But he got no help from the offense while Jeremy Hellickson and three of his mates combined to shut out Anaheim.

Nationals 11, Brewers 10:  Michael Morse hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth inning, then hit a two-run double in the 11th which provided the winning margin. Not bad. Oh, and this was ridiculous.

Orioles 6, Athletics 1Wei-Yin Chen struck out 12 and Matt Wieters hit a three-run homer to help the O’s avoid the sweep.

Astros 9, Pirates 5: Another avoided sweep, as the Astros finally snap their losing streak. Marwin Gonzalez had three hits and drove in three. He had been 0 for his previous 16. Fun Fact: Gonzalez has, at every level of baseball he’s played since he was a teenager, driven in three runs on July 29th. Actually that’s a lie, bus since only like three of you guys pull for the Astros and know who Marwin Gonzalez is I coulda just left that hangin’ out there and none of you would have been able to dispute it.

Tigers 4, Blue Jays 1: Jhonny Peralta homered twice and drove in all four of Detroit’s runs to help the Tigers, you guessed it, avoid a three game sweep.

Marlins 5, Padres 4: Justin Ruggiano hit the game winner in the tenth of what could be Josh Johnson’s last start as a Marlin. If so, somewhat dubious — six walks — but he was effective enough to keep his team in the game.

Red Sox 3, Yankees 2: It’s  Pedro Ciriaco’s world. He’s just letting us live in it for a little while.

Rangers 2, White Sox 0: Eight shutout innings from Scott Feldman. Now four games against the Angels.

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.