Justin Turner’s walk-off home run against the Chicago Cubs in the 2017 NLCS is a moment when every Dodger can remember where they were when it happened. That meteoric home run vindicated the Dodgers, propelled them to their first World Series appearance in 29 years, and solidified them as legitimate contenders.
Prior to Turner’s blast, the Dodgers were a team that just couldn’t breakthrough in the playoffs. They lost to the Cardinals. Floundered against the Mets. Lost to the Cardinals again. They earned the “good, not great” moniker. A team that couldn’t put it all together in the big moments. Fans scapegoated former manager Don Mattingly for poor bullpen management, but there were plenty of other on-field mental lapses.
Coming Up Short
Andre Ethier got picked off at third by Yadier Molina in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS versus the Redbirds to end a two-out rally with runners on first and second. The Dodgers season ended in a 3-2 defeat.
The aforementioned Justin Turner failed to cover third after a shift in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS against the Mets and allowed Daniel Murphy, notorious Dodger killer, to steal third and later score. Los Angeles lost 3-2.
In 2016, the Dodgers met the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. The momentum of the series, with the Dodgers up 2-1, pivoted in Game 4 in Los Angeles when Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out at home plate in the bottom of the second. The Cubs would go on to win the game, the series, and a championship.
The play signaled the beginning of another playoff debacle. The team could feel it and the fans could feel it after the play was challenged and then upheld, here we go again.
All of the frustration and anxiety from those losses washed away with Turner’s walk-off home run. Yasiel Puig set the table by drawing a walk from Brian Duensing. Taylor did the same courtesy of everyone’s favorite “sanctity of the game” protector, John Lackey.
Justin Turner stepped into the box, two on, two out, in the bottom of the ninth with Dodger Stadium swelling with excitement. Up to that point, the magic of 2017 had yielded 104 wins including 10 walk-off wins. Victory at the hands of their former conquerors felt imminent.
With the game on the line and the Dodgers’ best hitter at the plate, Lackey chucked the first pitch into the dirt. The stadium roared even louder. The next pitch was a knee-high inside fastball that Turner crushed into left center and single-handedly cemented the Dodgers as the best team in the National League for years to come.
Do you remember where you were on that night? Let us know in the comments below!