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NYT: NLCS: Chris Taylor’s Three-Homer Day keeps Dodgers alive

LOS ANGELES – Chris Taylor is one example of what Los Angeles does so well. For mega-rich franchises like the Dodgers, it’s easy to throw millions on a Mookie Betts or a Clayton Kershaw. But outright stealing a hidden gem like Chris Taylor?

Facing elimination in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, it was Taylor whose powerful blows kicked off the Dodgers and this series in Atlanta for the weekend. His three home runs and six RBIs saw an 11-2 mauling.

Taylor had been a utility outfielder in Seattle that the Dodgers acquired in a little-noticed trade in June 2016, sending pitching prospect Zach Lee to the Mariners. Now 31, Taylor has become an invaluable piece of the winning puzzle in Los Angeles.

He hit a two-run homer in the second, hit an RBI single in the third, added a two-run homer in the fifth, then hit a solo homerun in the seventh, causing a recall of 51,363 fans at Dodger Stadium. Taylor became only the 11th player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a playoff game and the first player to do so in an elimination game.

Then, with the crowd singing to him on the eighth, he struck.

“I was shooting for that fourth,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He wasn’t going to walk.

In Thursday’s roster at third base, Taylor replaced another player the Dodgers scrapped. Justin Turner was unsolicited by the Mets after the 2013 season, signed with the Dodgers in 2014 and unexpectedly became an All-Star and his team’s spiritual leader. But when Turner left Game 4 with a very tense hamstring that will end his season, Taylor, who has already started at left and centerfield this playoff after being the Dodgers’ main second baseman l ‘last year was the best option to replace him in third.

Nine innings later, Taylor had his name engraved alongside those of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols, George Brett and six others who hit three home runs in a playoff game.

“It’s cool,” Taylor said. “I hadn’t really thought about it. It’s definitely a surreal feeling for me. I never thought I was going to hit three home runs in a game, let alone a playoff game. And he still hasn’t really penetrated.

Pujols called Taylor the club’s “secret weapon”. This is mainly because Taylor is overshadowed by other bigger stars like Betts, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner, Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and others. Part of the reason is that Taylor’s public figure is sweet and cold.

“He’s got a very soft voice and doesn’t get excited easily,” said outfielder AJ Pollock, who hit two homers and got four RBIs, giving him and Taylor 10 of 11 on the team. I saw is that he likes to drink a beer. He’s enthusiastic about that, a beer with the boys. And then he loves to watch the surf.

“Maybe today’s three circuits got his adrenaline pumping, but probably not. Most likely just beer and watch the surf.

The Dodgers rode the wave provided by Taylor and a stellar box game – seven pitchers combined to keep Atlanta at two points while striking out nine and walking no one – to win their seventh straight elimination game going up at last year’s NLCS when they came to life after Atlanta, three games against one.

Last year’s comeback will give Atlanta something to think about for a few days. Could a similar situation happen again? The Dodgers fielded Max Scherzer for Game 6 and Walker Buehler for Game 7, if necessary. They still have a chance to become the first team since the Yankees (1998-2000) to win the back-to-back World Series.

Whatever happens, there’s a good chance Taylor is in the middle of it all. His two-run homerun in the bottom of the ninth pushed the Dodgers to a victory over St. Louis. His baserunning blunder in NLCS Game 1 opened the door for Atlanta to steal a victory. Then he netted a two-point brace in Game 2 in what appeared to be a buyout match before Atlanta won again in the bottom of the ninth.

Then came his fireworks display in Game 5.

“You have to take the lows with the highs and it all boils down in the playoffs,” said Taylor, who is now hitting .529 (9 for 17) with 20 total goals in this NLCS. “And it’s a game of chess. You’re going to make mistakes. And then there are times like tonight when it’s what’s worth it and that’s why you put your head down and keep going. moving forward.

Taylor may have a soft voice, but he has certainly developed many admirers in his own clubhouse over the years.

“I remember back in 17, from afar, I just had a crush on him,” said Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen, who has split this season between Oakland and Washington. “He plays so hard and he doesn’t really promote himself. I like its attribute.

“He’s a clutch hitter,” Pujols said in Spaniard. “This is the person you want to plate to get a shot. He’s shown it not only during the season, but here in the playoffs. It was a spectacular night that was needed to bring in the energy of the fans and push this series to six games. “

Jacques Wagner contributed reports.

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