Dodgers rally to beat Padres after Kenley Jansen blows another save
SAN DIEGO — The Dodgers have won pretty and won ugly. They have won with slugging and with pitching. They will win 106 games at their current pace, and it can now be said they have won because of a clutch stolen base.
The better question is, how many more games will they win with Kenley Jansen as their closer?
Jansen blew his seventh save of the season Wednesday, allowing the tying run in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres. That set the stage for a two-out rally in the 10th inning against Kirby Yates and a 6-4 win at Petco Park that dropped the Dodgers’ magic number for clinching their seventh consecutive NL West title to nine.
The key play: a two-out steal by Kiké Hernandez, who beat Francisco Mejia’s throw to second base by mere inches. The next batter, Russell Martin, scorched a ground ball to Padres shortstop Luis Urías. After snaring the ball in his glove, Urías airmailed the throw over the head of first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hernandez, running on contact with two outs, scored easily from second base.
A.J. Pollock drove in Martin with a single later in the 10th inning to knock Yates (0-5) out of the game. An All-Star for the first time in 2019, Yates blew his fourth save opportunity of the season – his second against the Dodgers this month.
Hernandez said he received a text message from Manager Dave Roberts early Wednesday saying he would get the day off. But the Padres made a late change, recalling left-hander Nick Margevicius from the minor leagues and inserting reliever Trey Wingenter as their starting pitcher. Hernandez swapped in for Joc Pederson, a left-handed hitter, a couple of hours before first pitch.
As fate would have it, Hernandez was still in the game with two outs in the 10th inning, drawing a walk against Yates to begin the winning rally.
“When you play in the National League and you can play a few positions, you never know when you have to be ready to come in the game at any point,” Hernandez said. “When they called up (Margevicius), we know he’s been a starter, we figured that he was going to be an opener. We did a line change and it worked out.”
Hernandez also drove in a run with an eighth-inning single. He scored two of the Dodgers’ six runs.
“Kiké really had a heck of a ballgame,” Roberts said. “Driving in a run, hitting the ball the other way, it was a big run right there at that point in time. When you get two outs, you can slug. Most guys try to do it with one swing. But Kiké took a good at-bat against Yates, got on base, stole second base.”
Trying to preserve a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning, Jansen blew his seventh save of the season – matching a career-high set in 2012.
Mejia began the inning by hitting a soft flare to left field. The ball caromed off Chris Taylor’s glove and Mejia was on second base with a double.
With one out and Mejia on third base, Jansen threw a cut fastball above Ty France’s head. The ball caromed off Martin’s glove to the backstop for a wild pitch. Mejia scored and the score was tied at 4, the save blown.
“He’s throwing the ball well. He really is,” Roberts said of Jansen. “That’s a play that (Taylor) gave it everything he had. If you make that play it’s a completely different inning. I still think the ball is coming out really well.”
Jansen is 2 for 5 in August save opportunities. Roberts previously resolved to withhold Jansen from certain save situations in order to keep his appearances on a more regular schedule, but that has not curtailed Jansen’s struggles. At times the issue has been pitch selection, at other times velocity.
“I actually thought he sequenced pretty well tonight,” Roberts said.
Casey Sadler pitched a scoreless 10th inning to record his first save. Jansen (4-3) was credited with the victory.
The Dodgers dodged a bullet in the fifth inning when second baseman Max Muncy was struck on his right wrist by a 94-mph fastball from Matt Strahm. Muncy had to leave the game and the injury was announced as a contusion.
Roberts said x-rays were negative and Muncy is day-to-day with wrist soreness.
Kenta Maeda got off to a rough start before the announced crowd of 26,871. He walked two of the first three hitters he faced, then allowed an RBI single to Hosmer. When Hunter Renfroe lofted a fly ball to Hernandez in right field, Manny Machado was able to tag up and score from third base. The Padres led 2-0 after one inning.
Maeda helped the Dodgers pull ahead with his bat.
Cody Bellinger led off the second inning with a walk and went to third base on a single by Taylor. When Corey Seager tapped a ground ball to second base, Bellinger had time to score from third without a throw.
Wingenter walked Hernandez, then was removed in favor of right-hander Luis Perdomo. Martin walked, loading the bases for Maeda.
Maeda hit a home run here in his second major league at-bat three years ago. It remains the only home run of his career. This time he hit a line-drive single, allowing Taylor and Hernandez to score. The Dodgers led 3-2.
The right-hander allowed just one hit over the next four innings and didn’t allow a runner to advance past second base.
The Dodgers will transition from a six-man starting rotation to a traditional five-man rotation next week. If this was Maeda’s last start before he joins the bullpen, he did not go out with a whimper. The right-hander allowed a single, a double and three walks in five innings. He struck out three batters and moved above .500 for the first time in more than a month.
“With Kenta, there’s just that versatility component,” Roberts said. “As a starter, we’ve seen him do great things. We’ve seen him do great things out of the ’pen. That’s something as we look out, we’re going to have a conversation with him and see what’s best for us and what’s best for him. We haven’t made that decision yet.”
"For me it was just a matter of trying to get on base."
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 29, 2019
Flip the script. pic.twitter.com/uy9YRjajuN
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) August 29, 2019