WASHINGTON -- Over the previous two seasons, Justin Turner was one of the Dodgers' best hitters and an anchor in the middle of their lineup. But for one reason or another, the third baseman stumbled to start the 2016 season, and on June 8, he was hitting only .220.Turner insists
WASHINGTON -- Over the previous two seasons, Justin Turner was one of the Dodgers' best hitters and an anchor in the middle of their lineup. But for one reason or another, the third baseman stumbled to start the 2016 season, and on June 8, he was hitting only .220.
Turner insists nothing in his swing has changed since then, but his numbers certainly have. Since that date, he has lifted his average 47 points by hitting .333 with 13 home runs, including two off Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg in a 6-3 Dodgers win Thursday.
"I've felt healthy all year, I don't know what was going on those first two months," Turner said. "I feel good, feel comfortable and am obviously getting better results."
Turner's first home run, a two-run shot on a 3-2 slider, gave the Dodgers a lead in the first inning. His second, a three-run blast in the third inning on a 3-0 fastball, gave the Dodgers a nice five-run cushion. Strasburg had not allowed five runs in a game all season, and Turner tagged him with five runs in two swings.
Thursday marked Turner's fourth career multihomer game and his first time driving in five runs in one contest since May 15, 2011. It was the infielder's best game in a six-week stretch full of impressive performances.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the difference for Turner in recent weeks has been his ability to elevate the ball to left field.
"It's a simple mindset, but execution and mechanically it's tougher to do," Roberts said. "But he committed some time in June to get out front and elevate to the pull side, and then you've seen the slug."
Though Turner's numbers aren't quite back to where they've been the previous two seasons, his two homers gave him 17 in 2016, a new career high. And in recent weeks he's showing the on-base skills the Dodgers have come to expect from him.
"It's not even a hot streak anymore," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "It's just who JT is. JT's a middle-of-the-[order] guy."
Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.