Kenley Jansen immediately found himself in a jam in the ninth inning on Sunday, but he was one out away from getting the Los Angeles Dodgers a sweep of the San Diego Padres. Instead, the Dodgers were the team to squander a lead in a loss.
Had Jansen converted the save opportunity, the Dodgers would have won games in which they trailed by two runs, three runs and four runs, respectively. Pitching for a third straight day, Jansen surrendered a leadoff single to Eric Hosmer.
Then a mixture of miscommunication and misfortune led to the Padres loading the bases with a pair of bunt singles. That put the tying run 90 feet away and the game-winning run in scoring position.
Jansen struck out Greg Garcia and got Francisco Mejia to pop up. After getting pinch-hitter Hunter Renfroe to swing through strike one, Jansen allowed a walk-off grand slam.
Keeping true to his forward-thinking mindset, Jansen was focused on moving on and credited Renfroe for hitting his cutter, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“I’m not going to beat myself [up],”Jansen said. “I got beat on my best pitch, a pitch I wanted to throw in that situation — up in the zone. I just got to let it out. It sucks. I’ll try to not think about this one when I’m driving home, just let it out here and be ready next time.”
Jansen is correct in that the cutter is his top pitch, though the location of it leaked back over the plate. That was enough of a difference-maker for Renfroe, who choked up on the bat and swung from his heels on both pitches seen.
The blown save was Jansen’s second in 14 opportunities this season. More troubling are the four home runs he’s now allowed in 17.1 innings. Jansen is coming off a year in which he surrndered a career-worst 13 homers over 71.2 innings pitched.
Prior to last season, he’d never allowed more than six in a season. And though Sunday’s loss was a down moment for the Dodgers’ closer, he’d begun to show flashes of his dominance self. Jansen went through a stretch where he converted four consecutive saves with six strikeouts and only one hit and two walks allowed.
“His stuff is starting to get back to what we’re used to,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told DodgerBlue.com on Saturday. “I think he’s done a really good job of changing eye levels. But the characteristics, the velocity out of hand, really good now.”