All-Star closer Kenley Jansen hit with the bases loaded in the NLDS and took some quality hacks
The Dodgers signed a young catcher named Kenley Jansen back in 2004. Along his path in the Minor Leagues, he made the transition from behind the plate to on the mound, and so far it's paid off decently.
Despite his standing as an All-Star closer for the National League West-winning club this season, Jansen found himself revisiting old times in the Division Series-opening Game 1 on Friday night at Nationals Park.
Los Angeles, clinging to a 4-3 lead, brought Jansen into the game in the eighth inning for a five-out save. In the top of the ninth, the Dodgers loaded the bases against Mark Melancon -- and up strode Jansen to the plate, as manager Dave Roberts obviously didn't want to take him out of the game. What resulted was ... well, some mighty hacks at the dish:
That's not the swing of a pitcher trying to hit a bloop single to left.
What makes Jansen's pressure-packed plate appearance such a big deal? Well, earlier this summer he estimated that he hadn't swung a bat at full speed since 2010 (scroll to the :45 mark)
2010 is six years ago. That's a long time between full swings, so it's pretty impressive Jansen fouled off a Melancon offering on Friday night in addition to taking a handful of hacks that didn't really look like what we usually see when a reliever winds up taking his turn at the plate.
After his turn at bat, Jansen resumed his duties on the hill and proceeded to strike out Trea Turner, get Bryce Harper on a lineout and whiff Jayson Werth to nail down the Dodgers' series-opening 4-3 victory. But his strikeout of Werth wasn't without some attempted trickery in the form of a quick-pitch that Werth fouled away:
In his postgame presser, Roberts offered up a bit of a scouting report on Jansen as a hitter:
And Jansen, though he said later that he was looking ahead to the bottom of the ninth, would gladly have accepted gifting himself some insurance runs:
Rather eventful evening for Mr. Jansen, overall.
Tune in to FS1 at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday for Game 2 to see what's in store for an encore.