ARLINGTON, Texas — Clayton Kershaw isn’t the only accomplished Dodgers pitcher with a history of shaky Octobers. Kenley Jansen added to his imperfect résumé Saturday night with what his manager Dave Roberts called “an un-perfect storm.”
Jansen took the loss in the 8-7 Rays victory, with World Series Game 4 ending in one of the most illogical sequences you’ll ever see. And whatever slack you wanted to cut Jansen on the pitches he threw, a failure to do his job on defense led to his club’s demise.
“We can’t let this one beat us,” Jansen said afterward, repeating what he said was discussed in the team’s clubhouse at Globe Life Field. “We’ve been here before. We’ve got to go and regroup quickly, come and play baseball [Sunday]. We know who we are. We know what we’re capable of.”
The 33-year-old Jansen is a three-time All-Star and one of the highest-paid closers in the game. In the World Series, however, he now has blown four saves in six opportunities.
In this one, entering in the ninth inning to protect a 7-6 lead, he saw Kevin Kiermaier reach on a one-out, broken-bat single. With two outs, he walked the ultra-dangerous Randy Arozarena, advancing the tying run Kiermaier to scoring position. Then he got two strikes on the little-used Brett Phillips before seeing him stroke a soft single to right-center field.
“I didn’t give up one hard hit,” Jansen said. “I threw the pitches where I wanted to. Credit to the hitters. A broken-bat single and a bloop single.”
Ah, but Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor let Phillips’ single get away from him, and then set forth a crazy chain of events: Arozarena, sent home, fell between third base and the plate. Dodgers catcher Will Smith somehow couldn’t grab the relay from first baseman Max Muncy. And Jansen essentially watched the play instead of putting himself in a position to help. Had he been backing up Smith, he could have bailed out his catcher and tagged out Arozarena.
Roberts said that Jansen should have been between third and home, “somewhere in that area.”
Jansen, pressed about his positioning, said, “It doesn’t matter. [Sunday’s] another day.”
Another day for Jansen to try to improve his World Series record and help end his team’s Fall Classic drought.
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