TURNER NEARLY ENDS UP A HERO
His home run gets Dodgers even in the ninth before Chirinos hits a walk-off shot.
ARLINGTON, Texas — In the clubhouse, the kid ran to the player who had the ninth-inning heroics.
“You hit a home run!” he said. “You hit a home run!”
After another toothless offensive performance Tuesday by the Dodgers in a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, Justin Turner hit a tworun home run to tie the score, 2-2, in the ninth inning. For a moment, it appeared he would rescue the Dodgers.
But the kid was not in the Dodgers clubhouse. He was in the Rangers clubhouse, and he was talking to his father, Robinson Chirinos.
After Turner’s home run, Chirinos led off the bottom of the inning with a walk-off home run. Chirinos, drenched in Gatorade, gave his son a high-five.
From the Dodgers dugout, Manager Don Mattingly had watched the ball fly past Andre Ethier’s leaping try and felt def lated, he said, but not cheated. The loss, he indicated, was probably deserved.
“You know honestly it felt like that ball goes out, obviously disappointing, but we just didn’t do enough to give ourselves a chance to win,” Mattingly said.
Rookie pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez baff led the Dodgers with movement and deception so effectively that catcher Yasmani Grandal said his pitches looked “as big as a beach ball and then all of a sudden it just disappeared. It was kind of like, where did it go?”
The same could be asked of the Dodgers offense.
“I just didn’t see us having a chance really,” Mattingly said. “He just kind of did whatever he wanted.”
This sweep in the twogame series, when the Dodgers managed only three runs, was not an anomaly. In the latter half of their 64 games this season, the Dodgers have not hit well.
The Dodgers aren’t scoring runs, but they are in first place in the National League West and lead the San Francisco Giants by 21⁄
Do they change anything?
The most tempting tweak might be in the running game.
The Dodgers still wallow in last place in stolen bases. They’re 10th in the NL in sacrifice hits. They’ve hit more home runs than every team in the majors but the Houston Astros, but is more diversity needed?
“I think we need to stay within our strengths,” Grandal said. “There’s no reason why we need to change what we’ve been doing. I mean, we’re struggling, we’re still in first place. There’s no reason to change. Don’t change it if it ain’t broken.”
Grandal said the team has stayed patient, worked counts and put on good swings. The team’s on-base percentage, he noted, is second in the majors. Line drives, he said, have simply found fielders.
One way around that, at least temporarily, could involve using speed to lure fielders out of position. Mattingly said that would not have helped against Rodriguez.
“He’s getting enough outs on his own, and for us to hand him any more, we were trying to stay away from that,” Mattingly said.
Mattingly said he focuses on quality at-bats and swinging at strikes. Do that, he said, and you’ll score runs.
Perhaps, though, the fix is even simpler. Grandal and Joc Pederson were the only Dodgers with multiple hits Tuesday. And Pederson’s power hasn’t evaporated — he has four home runs in June.
In this otherwise lifeless game for the Dodgers, Turner’s home run seemingly materialized out of nowhere. But he had a secret.
“I swung Joc’s bat,” he said.
Maybe the rest of the lineup can give that a try.
JUSTIN TURNER watches throw to first base after forcing out Elvis Andrus at second in third inning.