Trea Turner delivers with early homer, slick double play; Smith adds pair of doubles
LOS ANGELES — After not contributing at the level he’s capable of in the Dodgers’ 2021 postseason run, Game 1 of the National League Division Series saw Trea Turner get off on the right foot.
The Dodgers’ shortstop homered, doubled and scored twice to catalyze L.A.’s offense as part of a 5-3 win over the Padres on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
• NLDS Game 2: Tonight, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 PT on FS1
It’s early, but it’s already evident that there’s a key difference between this year and last — Turner got through this season completely healthy, sitting out just two games, both late in the season and at manager Dave Roberts’ insistence.
“I feel like this year, my body has felt as good as it has in a long time,” said Turner. “The last few years and years past, [I played] banged up, but this year has been pretty good. … Having a few days off, mentally and physically, just helps a little bit and helps you hit the reset button real quick and then get right back to it.”
Trea Turner on Game 1 win
Five off-days between the final regular-season game and the Dodgers’ first postseason game not only gave Turner time to get properly rested, but also to work on swing adjustments following some late-season scuffling at the plate. The results were there immediately for Turner, who knocked a 1-1 pitch from Padres righty Mike Clevinger into the left-field bleachers for a solo home run in the first inning.
At 110.8 mph off the bat, per Statcast, it was Turner’s hardest-hit home run all year. It was also his first postseason homer with the Dodgers — his second overall in his 40th career playoff game — to put an early jolt into the sellout crowd, which was amplified by Will Smith doubling two batters later before coming in to score on a Max Muncy base hit.
Max Muncy’s RBI single to left
“It’s a team that makes you work, and they make you throw a lot of pitches,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “When you throw pitches in the middle of the plate, they take advantage of it, and that’s what I saw early on with [Clevinger].”
Turner and Smith got to Clevinger again in the third, starting with a double by Turner to give him his first career postseason game with multiple extra-base hits. Smith hit his second double of the night to drive in Turner, then came home himself on a double by Gavin Lux, which chased Clevinger from the game after 60 pitches.
Will Smith’s RBI double to left
“We wanted to get to the bullpen as much as we can and see those arms and make them throw as many pitches as possible, so I think that was a job well done,” said Turner.
The four runs scored was a significant tally, as the Dodgers entered the night 25-0 in postseason games where they scored four or more runs in the first three innings. They’d add another insurance run in that third inning thanks to a Wil Myers error on Cody Bellinger’s bases-loaded grounder to first.
And though the Padres later rallied, they were never quite able to close the gap created by the Dodgers’ early offensive showing.
Dave Roberts speaks on Game 1 win
Since the Padres-Mets Wild Card Series was the only one that went the full three games, L.A. had the unique advantage of facing a No. 4 starter rather than a No. 3. Turner didn’t view it that way, though.
“I think all of us, as a whole, don’t take anybody lightly,” said Turner. “We know that on any given day, somebody can throw a good game against us or beat us in general. … I think he is a pretty good pitcher. I think we respect him in the clubhouse. I know what the numbers are, but that doesn’t mean anything, really, when it comes to the postseason or to that given day.”
Will Smith on the Game 1 win
Turner also came up big with his glove. With two on, one out and the Dodgers’ lead down to two runs in the sixth, Turner combined with Lux to turn a tremendous and difficult double play.
Off Myers’ bat, Roberts thought the ball was going to get past Lux, so it was a pleasant surprise when they were able to get Evan Phillips out of the jam.
“Wil did a really nice job of staying inside that baseball, but Gavin got a good jump on it, didn’t panic, made a nice feed to Trea — and Wil is a good runner,” said Roberts. “For me, that was the play of the game.”