Turner makes immediate impact in return

All-Star shortstop homers in first inning; Bell smacks go-ahead shot

July 6th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- With the first swing of his bat, was back.

The shortstop returned to the lineup Monday in the Nationals’ 7-5 win in the series opener against the Padres at Petco Park. Turner had missed the entire four-game series against the Dodgers over the weekend after jamming his left middle finger while sliding into third base to complete hitting for the cycle last Wednesday.

Batting in the No. 2 spot, Turner jumped all over Joe Musgrove’s 94.3 mph fastball in the top of the first inning. He sent it soaring a Statcast-estimated 410 feet to left field at 108.4 mph, connecting on his fourth home run in his last five games played.

“He’s one of the big pieces that makes us go,” manager Dave Martinez said, adding, “Now you see why he’s an All-Star.”

After Turner watched leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar battle through a nine-pitch at-bat to open the game, he believed he would get a good pitch to hit. For a player who wants to be on the field every day, there would be no need to settle in or shake off any rust if he saw something he could attack.

“It’s like, you go up there and you’re like, ‘I want to be patient,’” Turner said. “Then you get a pitch right down the middle and you’re like, ‘I should have hit that one,’ and then vice versa … It’s just game planning and taking your chances, and hopefully it works out.”

In his next at-bat, Turner singled on a line drive into center field to load the bases in what transpired into a four-run second inning. He finished the night 2-for-4 with a walk, extending his streak of consecutive games played with at least one run scored to a league-leading 13 games.

“He’s something else,” Josh Bell said. “First pitch he sees, it goes out of the ballpark. Every at-bat that he has, it seems like he’s either running around the bases or it’s a 3-2 count as he’s making pitchers work. Both sides of the ball, he’s definitely something special and it gives us a chance to win with him in the lineup.”

Turner’s return to action comes at a critical time for the Nationals. Two days after Turner was sidelined by his finger injury, leadoff-hitting powerhouse Kyle Schwarber sustained a right hamstring strain. Schwarber was placed on the 10-day IL on Saturday and is expected to miss “significant time,” according to manager Dave Martinez.

“As a leadoff guy, you try to get on base, try to make things happen and you kind of get the ball rolling for the rest of the guys,” Turner said. “That’s kind of been my role my whole career, and now I’m hitting two but it’s the same thing -- you’ve got to get on in front of those guys behind you because that middle of the order can really drive in runs.”

In order to reclaim the momentum that bumped them to over .500 last Tuesday, the Nats will need other bats to get hot without Schwarber’s near-daily home runs. They arrived in San Diego on a four-game skid ahead of back-to-back road series against the Padres and Giants leading into the All-Star break. Bell provided the go-ahead run with a solo homer in the seventh inning to claim the series opener.

“We made it tough against ourselves against the Dodgers, but we bounced back and that’s what we’ve got to do and that’s what we’ve kind of done this year,” Turner said. “We dug a hole, but we’ve found a way to get better each and every day. We’ve just got to keep competing and keep rolling.”