Tigers break out the lumber in the sixth inning, take 5-0 lead in ALCS Game 2

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Through the first 14 innings, the ALCS had been a pitcher-dominated affair. Anibal Sanchez and the Tiger bullpen held the Red Sox hitless through eight and two-thirds innings in Game 1 and Scherzer has held the Sox hitless through five in Game 2. To their credit, the Sox pitching has been nearly as good — that is, until the top of the sixth inning.

With one out, facing starter Clay Buchholz with a narrow 1-0 lead, Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera launched a solo home run over the Green Monster in left field for what was, at the time, an insurance run. Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez followed up with back-to-back doubles, the latter scoring the former. Later in the inning, with two outs, Alex Avila laced a 91 MPH Buchholz fastball well over the fence in right field for a two-run homer, putting the Tigers up 5-0.

Omar Infante then lined a single to left-center, ending Buchholz’s night. Red Sox manager John Farrell called on Brandon Workman to see them through the end of the sixth. After walking Don Kelly, Workman got Austin Jackson to ground out to, at long last, end the inning.

Oh, and about that no-hitter Scherzer has going? He has nine strikeouts to go along with it. Red Sox batters have swung and missed at 15 of his 76 pitches thus far. This could get interesting.

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.