Dodgers fans were chanting “CT3” late in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night, hoping LA utlityman Chris Taylor would hit his fourth home run of the night.
It was an elimination game, and given his recent history, it stands to reason he’s one of the players, if not the player, Dodger fans would want at the plate in this moment on the cusp of history.
But that wouldn’t have been the case eight weeks ago, as the eighth month of 2021 was drawing to a close. Taylor was beginning an eventual 8-for-72 slump that followed him to the start of the postseason.
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Taylor didn’t reach the elusive four-homer mark (he struck out), but what he did do Thursday — launch three home runs and drive in six in the Dodgers’ 11-2 rout of the Braves — gave him eight RBIs in elimination games in one postseason, a franchise record.
“That’s what we needed to do — we needed to make a statement,” Taylor said postgame. “They put it on us [in Game 4], so we had to respond and it’s a good answer for us.”
He also made MLB postseason history and joined one of his teammates in the process:
His three home runs make him 9 for 17 in the NLCS, which is heading back to Atlanta with the Dodgers trailing three games to two.
Update: Chris Taylor now has *more* RBI this postseason than Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Trea Turner and Will Smith combined. https://t.co/WXw7V0qyn2
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 22, 2021
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Taylor has been an easy target recently, both bad and good.
The bad — the slump and a costly baserunning mistake in Game 1 — are now afterthoughts. The good far outweighs the bad, both in terms of impact and memorability.
He hit a walk-off two-run home run in the NL wild-card game against the Cardinals to send his team to the NLDS. That was clutch elimination game moment No. 1
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Then came Thursday’s Game 5. LA entered it on the brink of elimination. Taylor came up clutch again and joined elite baseball company that included Albert Pujols, Reggie Jackson George Brett and seven others who have hit three home runs in a postseason game.
He’s the first of those 11 to have his three-homer game happen in an elimination game, though.
All the early positives were just what Taylor needed to help keep his postseason resurgence going Thursday.
“I think mechanically, I’m in a better place. I was kind of grinding there for the last couple months of the regular season and finally worked through some things,” he said postgame. “Once you get a couple of hits, the confidence definitely comes.”
His teammate A.J. Pollock also sent two balls into the seats, marking just the third time that teammates hit multi-homer games in the same postseason game.
Good things have seemed to happen to Taylor in eights this postseason. In addition to the eight RBIs in elimination games, he will try to help propel the Dodgers to their eighth straight elimination-game victory when Game 6 rolls around Saturday.
What 8-for-72 slump?