After going 6-2 on their road trip, the Los Angeles Dodgers began a seven-game homestand with a series against the suddenly resurgent New York Mets. Winners in six of their last seven games, the Mets went into the Memorial Day matchup at .500 for the first time in two weeks.
The series opener was billed as a pitcher’s duel between Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw and Jacob deGrom, but the night ultimately belonged to Cody Bellinger. He stole the spotlight with a home run off deGrom and two assists that prevented a run from scoring both times.
Bellinger’s second throw helped Kenley Jansen and the Dodgers complete an inning-ending double play to escape a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Jansen threw just one pitch after entering in the eighth inning and proceeded to complete the five-out save.
It’s not often in the regular season that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will stretch Jansen to that extent. However, he felt Monday’s game warranted such a circumstance, per Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider:
“That’s a game that we need to win,” Roberts said. “I just thought it made sense.”
Prior to Monday, Jansen’s last five-out save came against the Pittsburgh Pirates last July 4. Of his 15 saves this season, only two have required Jansen to pitch more than an inning. He did blow a save against the Milwaukee Brewers but returned in the ninth to earn a win after going 1.1. innings.
Beyond Roberts’ desire to secure the win, the decision to turn to Jansen in the eighth inning was made easier by the fact he’d last pitched May 21. Furthermore, Jansen went five days between appearances before facing the Tampa Bay Rays in a non-save situation.
The 31-year-old has continued to lower his ERA since it peaked at 4.67 with allowing a walk-off grand slam to Hunter Renfroe. The San Diego Padres simultaneously avoided being swept by the Dodgers at Petco Park and handed Jansen his second blown save of the season.
Some of the inconsistencies Jansen has battled this season stem from last year, when an abbreviated Spring Training threw him off course. So too did Jansen again experiencing heart trouble, which ultimately required a second surgery in the offseason.