The Los Angeles Dodgers snapped their 11-game losing streak, the longest in franchise history since 1944, by hanging on for a 5-3 win against the San Francisco Giants. A bullpen that has struggled for the better part of the last two-plus weeks this time managed to answer the bell.
After Clayton Kershaw held the Giants to two runs (one earned) Ross Stripling entered in the seventh with a 4-2 lead. He immediately allowed back-to-back singles before inducing a groundout that scored a run.
Still in some trouble, Stripling limited the damage by inducing a double play. Brandon Morrow tossed 0.2 innings, while Kenley Jansen converted a four-out save opportunity. It wasn’t without some suspense, however, as the Giants loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning.
After securing his 37th save of the season, Jansen declared the Dodgers to be better than the Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, and all other teams, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“I don’t care how good the Indians are playing. I don’t care how good the Nationals are playing. We are still the best team in baseball.”
Jansen has emerged as one of the leaders in the clubhouse over recent seasons, and often taken a big-picture perspective when evaluating the Dodgers. The team’s current slide has drawn that out from the right-handed closer.
Even with snapping their losing streak, the Dodgers are still in a 2-16 stretch. That’s allowed the Cleveland Indians, who are on a 21-game winning streak, and Washington Nationals to close the gap in the standings for best record in baseball.
The Dodgers unknowingly clinched a fifth consecutive trip to the postseason with their win. The confusion over whether it was a plausible scenario without receiving what was believed to be necessary help from the Pittsburgh Pirates or New York Mets, coupled with loftier goals, didn’t amount to any sort of celebration in the clubhouse.
The Nationals, who clinched the National League East a fourth time in the past six year, were the first team this season to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Dodgers’ magic number to claim a fifth straight NL West title is seven.