The Los Angeles Dodgers were in a load of trouble long before star third baseman Justin Turner collapsed in a heap, but the optics of his late-game injury certainly didn’t help matters in NLCS Game 4.
After all, it’s difficult to muster up one more rallying cry when your de facto captain pulls up lame and has to be carried — very much not an exaggeration — back to the locker room.
Turner had not been his usual postseason self this October. Long before his ill-fated grounder into the shift, he’d already posted a 3-for-33 line across the Wild Card, NLDS and NLCS. That’s not the type of offense this already-moribund lineup needed from their most prominent public face.
Cody Bellinger has stepped up in Max Muncy’s injury wake. Turner has not. Neither has his brother from another mother, Trea Turner. It is what it is.
On Wednesday, though, with the hint of another late-game collapse dancing between the ears of the Atlanta Braves as Turner stepped to the plate with Bellinger lurking as the tying run — again! — our last bit of hope disappeared as the third baseman’s hamstring finally gave out due to an overload of hustle.
After Turner hobbled back to the dugout, his energy expended in full, he was helped back to the locker room by Albert Pujols, potentially nearing the end of his final postseason ride. We wish this photograph had remained private so that it could not have the power to re-break our heart.
Dodgers’ Justin Turner and Albert Pujols photo is depressing.
This isn’t how it was supposed to be for the Dodgers. This October, we were supposed to watch Turner carry Pujols to his first ring since 2011, putting a redemptive bow on the end of the legend’s career.
We were supposed to avoid the NL Wild Card Game by beating the San Diego Padres out for the NL West. The San Francisco Giants weren’t … even supposed to be part of this, really.
We were supposed to watch Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer carve their way deep into October. We were supposed to watch the 106-win athletic offense take flight with Trea Turner’s addition.
Instead, what we’ve watched has largely resembled an old boxer being led back to the corner of the ring, like the Turner/Pujols photo suggests.
Nothing has gone according to plan for any longer than a two-week stretch in this stunningly patchwork 106-win campaign that made you yearn for the fulfillment of potential, more than anything else.
Truly, no number of regular season wins can prepare you for the postseason, if all your energy is expended just getting there. Turner’s legs finally gave out Wednesday night, but the rest of his teammates don’t seem far behind.