Turner joins Gibson in Dodgers' walk-off lore

Club's 2nd game-ending postseason HR comes 29 years after first

October 16th, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- There were no fist pumps from as he rounded second base on Sunday night. Dodger Stadium shook like it was 1988, nonetheless.

NLCS Game 3: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/6 PT on TBS

Twenty-nine years to the day that Kirk Gibson launched one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, Turner added a chapter of his own to the record books.

Carving himself a Gibson-esque place in Dodgers lore, Turner smashed a walk-off three-run homer to straightaway center field, giving Los Angeles a 4-1 victory over the Cubs and a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World.

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"That's something that, down the road, hopefully many, many years from now, I'll get to tell stories about," Turner said.

And he won't be the only one.

Gibson's blast in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is the only other walk-off home run in the franchise's postseason history. On that fateful October night, Turner was a 3-year-old watching from his grandmother's couch as Gibson took the A's Dennis Eckersley deep and promptly rounded the bases while iconically pumping his fist.

"One of my earliest baseball memories," recalled Turner, who grew up a Dodgers fan in Lakewood, Calif.

In four seasons with Los Angeles, Turner is doing his part to create a few more memories for Dodgers fans. He's hitting .377 in 77 career postseason at-bats with four homers and 22 RBIs -- including all four for the Dodgers on Sunday night.

As if the Gibson comparisons weren't flattering enough, Turner received more high praise from his manager after the game.

"I played with David [Ortiz]," Dave Roberts said. "You're talking about big spots and coming up big [in them], and J.T. is that guy for us. He has that pulse where he can just kind of keep his calm and stay within the strike zone.

"He's not afraid to fail and just wants to be in that spot."

Except, in this instance, Turner didn't.

"I wanted to see 'T' finish it," Turner said, referring to Chris Taylor, the man preceeding him in the batting order. "I thought he was going to get the big hit."

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With the winning run on second base and the top of the Dodgers' lineup due up, Cubs manager Joe Maddon called for , a curious decision with lockdown closer available in the bullpen. In 15 big league seasons, Lackey had never pitched on consecutive days.

He walked Taylor on six pitches, setting the stage for Turner's once-in-a-generation heroics. Lackey started the at-bat with ball one, a cutter in the dirt. Then he grooved a 92-mph fastball in the lower half of the zone. The home dugout seemed to know what was coming.

"You see him on deck, and you think, 'Our best hitter is coming up to come through in the clutch right now,'" said Dodgers starter Rich Hill. "It's hard to describe [that feeling]."

Turner gets HR ball back from fan who made great catch on it

"Everyone in here wanted him at the plate in those situations," said , who watched things unfold from the on-deck circle. "He proved it why."

In his four postseasons, Turner has been easily the Dodgers' most prolific offensive weapon. But with early exits in the previous three, he lacked that career-defining playoff moment entering Sunday night.

And what a career it's been. In February 2014, Turner signed with the Dodgers for $1 million two weeks before Spring Training. He had been non-tendered by the Mets earlier that offseason and wasn't guaranteed a place on the Los Angeles roster.

"Obviously, in that moment, in that time, it was a tough situation for me," Turner said. "But I'm happy to be right where I'm at today -- to be a Dodger and get an opportunity to bring the first championship back here in a long time."

Ultimately -- among all the Gibson parallels that will arise in the coming days -- the championship is all that's missing. Five days after Gibson's iconic home run, the Dodgers finished off the A's to secure the franchise's sixth World Series. Turner and the Dodgers wouldn't mind the same storybook ending in 2017.