NLCS: Chris Taylor’s Three-Homer Day Retains Dodgers Alive

LOS ANGELES — Chris Taylor is an instance of what Los Angeles does so effectively. For mega-rich franchises just like the Dodgers, it’s simple to throw tens of millions at a Mookie Betts or a Clayton Kershaw. However to outright pilfer a hidden gem like Chris Taylor?

Going through elimination in Sport 5 of the Nationwide League Championship Collection, it was Taylor whose mighty swings launched the Dodgers and this sequence again to Atlanta for the weekend. His three residence runs and 6 R.B.I. highlighted an 11-2 mauling.

Taylor had been an extraneous utility infielder in Seattle whom the Dodgers acquired in a little-noticed commerce in June 2016, sending Zach Lee, a pitching prospect, to the Mariners. Now 31, Taylor has developed into a useful piece of the successful puzzle in Los Angeles.

He walloped a two-run homer within the second, cracked an R.B.I. single within the third, added a two-run homer within the fifth after which hit a solo homer within the seventh, eliciting a curtain name from 51,363 followers at Dodger Stadium. Taylor turned simply the eleventh participant in M.L.B. historical past to hit three residence runs in a postseason recreation and the primary participant to take action in an elimination recreation.

Then, with the gang chanting for him within the eighth, he struck out.

“I used to be pulling for that fourth one,” Dodgers Supervisor Dave Roberts mentioned. “He wasn’t going to stroll.”

In Thursday’s lineup at third base, Taylor was subbing for an additional participant the Dodgers scooped off the scrap heap. Justin Turner was nontendered by the Mets after the 2013 season, signed with the Dodgers in 2014 and unexpectedly blossomed into an All-Star and his staff’s non secular chief. However when Turner left Sport 4 with a badly strained hamstring that can finish his season, Taylor, who already has began in left subject and heart subject this postseason after being the Dodgers’ main second baseman final 12 months, was the best choice to interchange him at third.

9 innings later, Taylor had etched his title alongside these of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols, George Brett and 6 others who’ve slugged three homers in a postseason recreation.

“It’s cool,” Taylor mentioned. “I hadn’t actually considered that. It’s undoubtedly a surreal feeling for me. I by no means thought I used to be going to hit three homers in a recreation, not to mention a postseason recreation. And it simply nonetheless hasn’t actually sunk in.”

Pujols referred to as Taylor the membership’s “secret weapon.” Most of that’s as a result of Taylor is overshadowed by different, larger stars like Betts, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and others. A part of it’s as a result of Taylor’s public persona is mellow and chill.

“He’s very soft-spoken and doesn’t get simply excited,” mentioned outfielder A.J. Pollock, who thumped two homers and had 4 R.B.I., giving him and Taylor a mixed 10 of the staff’s 11. “The one factor that excites him that I’ve seen is, he likes to have a beer. He will get enthusiastic about that, a beer with the boys. After which he loves watching browsing.

“Possibly the three residence runs right this moment might need spiked his adrenaline, however in all probability not. Probably simply the beer and watching browsing.”

The Dodgers rode the wave supplied by Taylor and a stellar bullpen recreation — seven pitchers mixed to carry Atlanta to 2 runs whereas placing out 9 and strolling no one — to win their seventh consecutive elimination recreation relationship again to final 12 months’s N.L.C.S. after they sprang to life after trailing Atlanta, three video games to 1.

Final 12 months’s comeback will give Atlanta one thing to consider for a few days. May the same one occur once more? The Dodgers have Max Scherzer lined up for Sport 6 and Walker Buehler for Sport 7, if vital. They nonetheless have an opportunity to change into the primary staff because the Yankees (1998-2000) to win consecutive World Collection.

No matter occurs, there’s probability Taylor can be in the course of it. His two-run homer within the backside of the ninth pushed the Dodgers to a wild-card win over St. Louis. His baserunning gaffe in Sport 1 of the N.L.C.S. opened the door for Atlanta to steal a win. Then he hit a two-run double in Sport 2 in what seemed to be a redemption recreation earlier than Atlanta gained once more within the backside of the ninth.

Then got here his fireworks present in Sport 5.

“You’ve bought to take the lows with the highs and every thing will get amplified within the postseason,” mentioned Taylor, who now could be batting .529 (9 for 17) with 20 complete bases on this N.L.C.S. “And it’s a recreation of failures. You’re going to make errors. After which there’s moments like tonight the place that’s what makes it value it and that’s why you simply put your head down and preserve shifting ahead.”

Taylor could be soft-spoken, however he’s actually developed many admirers in his personal clubhouse through the years.

“I bear in mind in ’17, from afar, I had only a man crush on him,” mentioned Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen, who cut up that season between Oakland and Washington. “He performs so laborious and he doesn’t actually promote himself. I like that attribute of his.”

“He’s a clutch hitter,” Pujols mentioned in Spanish. “He’s the individual you need on the plate to get successful. He’s proven it not simply over the course of the season however right here within the postseason. It was a spectacular night time that was wanted to deliver the vitality of the followers and to push this sequence to 6 video games.”

James Wagner contributed reporting.

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