While the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has come under fire this season for its inconsistency and trouble to protect leads, closer Kenley Jansen has largely been immune to criticism. After missing the first six weeks, Jansen returned from offseason foot surgery and answered the bell when called upon.
That included getting a four-out save Aug. 16, the same day his second child was born, which threw Jansen’s schedule off course a bit. However, that was the last time the hard-throwing right-hander was seen heading into Sunday’s game.
The reasoning of course is squarely explained by the Dodgers’ current five-game losing streak. They haven’t held many leads and when they did, Jansen’s bullpen mates failed to get the ball to him.
Clayton Kershaw took care of that himself Sunday, striking out 10 over eight innings and handing Jansen a 2-1 lead. He wound up blowing his second save of the season and the Houston Astros won on a walk-off home run in the 10th inning, with Chris Hatcher suffering the loss.
After the Dodgers were swept by the Astros, Jansen had a colorful assessment of the ninth inning that eventually spelled doom and also discussed remaining positive, via Pedro Moura of the OC Register:
“Two bull—- hits,” Jansen said. “What can I do?” … “You can’t beat yourself up about one-run leads,” he said. “You don’t have enough room for error, so you can’t beat yourself up, especially if you didn’t pitch for a week.”
Carlos Correa led off the bottom of the ninth with a bit of a jam shot to right field and later stole second base with one out. Jansen also got a pitch in on Marwin Gonzalez’s hands, but he was able to muscle a game-tying RBI single to right field with two outs.
Jansen has otherwise converted 24 saves this season and moved into sole possession of second place on the Dodgers’ all-time saves leaders list with 130 closeouts when he closed out the Aug. 16 game against the Cincinnati Reds. Of Jansen’s 24 saves this season, nine have come in games the Dodgers won by one run.