PITTSBURGH -- Over the course of his career with the Dodgers, Justin Turner has had success against plenty of pitchers. But his eyes appear to get even wider when he sees Tyler Anderson out on the mound.
Turner came into Wednesday’s game with a .484 (15-for-31) career batting average against the Pirates left-hander. That dominance continued on Wednesday, as Turner hit two homers off Anderson in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
The first homer was a no-doubter from Turner as he turned on a 1-1 fastball, sending it 409 feet to center field. In his next at-bat, Turner hit the ball well but he got some assistance from Pirates left fielder Ka’ai Tom, who appeared to have made a nice catch but lost the ball into the stands as he made contact with the outfield wall. The homer had an expected batting average of just .080. Either way, Turner and the Dodgers will take it.
After going 2-for-3 against Anderson on Wednesday, Turner is now 17-for-34 (.500) with three home runs against the southpaw. The 17 hits off Anderson is the second most for Turner against any pitcher in his career, behind just D-backs starter Madison Bumgarner (19). Turner, however, has faced Bumgarner 72 times.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only batting average higher than Turner’s against Anderson in an active batter-pitcher matchup with at least 30 at-bats is Nolan Arenado vs. Hyun Jin Ryu (.516).
“I think there are certain guys that you just see and actually, Anderson has kind of a funky delivery and so with a guy that has a leg kick like Justin, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, because those guys typically give guys with leg kicks some fits,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But Justin just sees him well and we needed every bit of his output tonight.”
Turner, who got off to a scorching start at the plate in April, has cooled off over the last couple of weeks, but he’s starting to hit his stride again. The third baseman is hitting .302 (13-for-43) over his last 12 games, capping it off with his 11th career multi-homer game on Wednesday. Turner getting his groove back at the plate bodes well for a Dodgers offense that has been good overall this season but is still searching for more consistent results.
Turner’s big night at the plate was enough for the Dodgers despite a shaky first start for Tony Gonsolin. After missing the first two months of the season with a shoulder injury, Gonsolin made his debut on Wednesday, but had a tough time throwing strikes. He needed 36 pitches to get through the first inning and exited the game after just 1 2/3 innings of work, allowing one run. Gonsolin faced 12 batters on Wednesday, walking five of them and striking out four.
“I was just throwing a lot of balls and couldn’t really find the zone with anything and just competed through it and luckily got out of there with only one [run],” Gonsolin said. “The bullpen threw great today and they really picked me up.”
Los Angeles’ bullpen did pick up Gonsolin as it turned into an impromptu bullpen game. Victor González got Colin Moran to fly out to escape a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the second. David Price followed with two scoreless innings and Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen wrapped up the last four innings.
Jansen, who recorded his 14th save of the season, ended the game by snagging a liner back to the mound off Ke’Bryan Hayes’ bat. Had the ball gotten through, the Pirates would’ve likely tied the game.
“That was fun. That was a quick rush,” Jansen said. “The adrenaline, everything. You’re kinda escaping a little bit for your life, but when you catch that ball, it’s awesome.”
The Dodgers came to Pittsburgh looking to win the series against the last-place Pirates and make up some ground in the National League West. They’ve done that, winning the first two games and leapfrogging over the Padres in the standings. Now, they’ll set their sights on completing the three-game sweep on Thursday.