The Oklahoman

Chris Taylor etches name in Dodgers’ playoff lore

- Bob Nightengal­e

LOS ANGELES - It will forever be known around these parts as the Chris Taylor Game.

The crowd of 51,363 chanted “CT3’’ throughout Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

They demanded a curtain call in the seventh inning.

They screamed his name every time he took the field.

It was the night Taylor saved the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season, the night the Dodgers staved off eliminatio­n for a magical seventh time, and the night Taylor will be etched forever in Dodger folklore.

Three home runs.

Six RBI.

Four hits.

Three runs.

He was a one-man show, re-writing the record books, becoming the first player to hit three home runs in an eliminatio­n game, and only the 11th to perform the feat in any postseason game, joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and teammate Albert Pujols.

“This is why you play the game,’’ Taylor said following LA’s 11-2 rout of the Atlanta Braves. “When you look back on all the years playing for the Dodgers, it’s all these big postseason games that are the most special to me. I think these are moments that we’re going to be able to look back on for the rest of our lives and it’s pretty cool.

“It’s definitely a surreal feeling for me.’’

Taylor, of course, is the one responsibl­e for the Dodgers’ season to even be playing. It was his two-run, walk-off homer against the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild game that propelled them to the NL Division Series. It was his baserunnin­g blunder that was blamed for their loss against Atlanta in Game 2 of the National League Championsh­ip Series. Now, it’s his heroics that keep the Dodgers’ hopes alive of returning to the World Series.

“Everything gets amplified in the postseason,’’ Taylor softly said. “It’s a game of failures. You’re going to make mistakes. And then there’s moments like tonight where that’s what make it’s worth it.

“And that’s why you just like put your head down and keep moving forward.

The Dodgers still trail Atlanta 3-2 in this best-of-seven NLCS with Game 6 on Saturday at Truist Field.

But all that matters is they still have life, with Dodger Stadium shaking in awe.

“It was awesome, man, it really was,’’ Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger said. “I had the goosebumps sitting on deck. I had the best view, I think, for all three.

“I haven’t been that close in that situation ever before either, so it was pretty cool to see that and to hear the crowd, and understand what was at stake there.’’

Pujols, 41, can certainly relate. He hit three home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, and he and Taylor are the only players in postseason history to hit three homers with at least four hits and six RBI in a game.

“The highlights are going to be there the rest of his life,’’ Pujols said, “and that’s something that you’re going to share forever. A moment like this doesn’t happen every day. I mean, it’s hard to hit one home run in a game, imagine three, especially in the postseason.

“So, watching Chris doing that, it was pretty special.’’

Said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts: “Seeing that he’s a part of history now is pretty remarkable. He’s in an elite class of very few. So when you’re talking about Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, these guys that didn’t do it, it’s pretty remarkable.’’

Really, the only one not getting caught up in the euphoria was the man of the hour.

Oh sure, Taylor thought it was cool. He gets to tell his grandkids about it one day. Maybe the bat will go to his trophy case.

But, as far as going wild, pumping his fists, dancing around the bases, and getting caught up with the sheer exhilarati­on, sorry, Taylor’s not your man.

“He’s very soft-spoken,’’ Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock said, impersonat­ing his voice, “and doesn’t get easily excited. The only thing that excites him is that he likes to have a beer. He gets excited about that, a beer with the boys.

“And he loves watching surfing. …If there’s the World Surf Tour, if it’s on, it could be 6:00 in the morning and he’s on his phone watching. Loves it. Loves surfing.’’

How about the love of being a Dodger hero with one of the greatest games in franchise history, hitting 1,209 feet of homers off three different pitchers?

“The three home runs today might have spiked his adrenaline,’’ says Pollock, “but probably not. Most likely, just the beer and watching surfing.’’

Pollock hit two home runs himself, allowing Taylor and himself to become only the third pair of teammates to have a multi-homer postseason, joining Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of the Yankees, along with Fernando Tatis and Wil Myers of the Padres.

 ?? KIRBY LEE/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Dodgers left fielder Chris Taylor became the first player to hit three home runs in an MLB eliminatio­n game.
KIRBY LEE/USA TODAY SPORTS Dodgers left fielder Chris Taylor became the first player to hit three home runs in an MLB eliminatio­n game.
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