The Dodgers envisioned a better outcome this week when they opened a four-game set with the Padres on their home turf at Chavez Ravine. While they continue to search for an offensive spark that again eluded them in their 6-2 loss to their division rival on Tuesday, they did have one thing to celebrate -- the long-term accomplishments of beloved third baseman Justin Turner.
Turner logged his 1,000th career hit in the second inning, a leadoff double to left field off Garrett Richards. It was a bright spot in a mostly disappointing night, punctuated by a big Padres third inning that proved too much for the Dodgers to erase.
Here are three key elements that shaped this game:
Soon after he cruised into second base, Turner was cheered loudly by his teammates in and around the dugout, an outburst easily heard on the telecast, thanks to a mostly empty ballpark that magnifies sounds normally muffled by crowd noise.
It’s a nice, round number for Turner, who was signed by the Dodgers six years ago as a non-roster Spring Training invite, with no promises for playing time and no guarantees he’d stick.
Between that Spring Training and Tuesday’s milestone hit, Turner has made one All-Star appearance and has played in six postseasons with the Dodgers, including two World Series. He may have been viewed as an unlikely contributor in ’14, but today, he’s one of the most popular players among the Dodgers’ sprawling fanbase.
“That's a big positive from tonight, and something Justin is and should be very proud of,” manager Dave Roberts said. “A lot of people along the way helped him, but no one more than himself. To reach that 1,000-hit milestone, considering where his career started, that's quite an accomplishment.”
The 35-year-old Turner became the first Dodger in two years to reach 1,000 hits. Manny Machado logged his 1,000th career hit while with the Dodgers on Aug. 9, 2018.
About Machado …
It’s that same Machado who did most of the damage in the Dodgers’ loss to the Padres. The third baseman launched a 410-foot grand slam to center field off Ross Stripling in the third inning, putting the Padres ahead, 5-1.
Stripling said he had a ground ball in mind when throwing Machado a breaking pitch -- a “get-me-over” slow slider that Machado may have been waiting for.
“I've thrown a lot of spin to him over the last two games,” said Stripling, who had just faced the Padres in his most recent outing last week in San Diego. “And I think he was just ready for it. And he hammered it.”
Because of the short turnaround time between his starts against the Padres, Stripling tried to mix in pitches they didn’t see a lot of last time -- specifically, the changeup.
“Obviously, it didn’t work terribly in my favor, but I thought it was at least something different to show them,” Stripling said. “It’s just about throwing the kitchen sink at them and keep them off balance as best you can.”
“You just didn't see that rhythm that he typically gets into, and the finish on a lot of his pitches tonight, for me, just didn't have that same finish that we're used to,” Roberts said. “There were some good throws in there.”
The Padres’ big inning could have been tempered with better defense. Things unraveled quickly, beginning with Stripling attempting to make a play on a bunt by Austin Hedges. Stripling threw it high over Cody Bellinger’s head at first, allowing Jake Cronenworth to score.
Jurickson Profar followed with another bunt, this time toward third. Turner’s throw was offline, pulling Bellinger off the bag. Fernando Tatis Jr. followed with a single that loaded the bases. Machado’s slam emptied them.
“I think I was rushing,” Stripling said of his errant throw. “I picked it up with three fingers and clawed it. Hedges isn’t very fast. I had all the time in the world but felt a little rushed there, because I didn't have a good grip on it when I probably had time to get a normal grip and just throw it hard.”
The miscues were costly. Had the score remained tied at 1, the run the Dodgers pushed across in the ninth may have been more significant.
“Obviously, the errors stink,” Stripling said. “If we can maybe just keep it at one or two there in the third, it's a totally different ballgame. So it just stinks that the inning got away from us.”