Jansen delivers as Dodgers end series strong

Closer continues impressing with 11th save of season

May 8th, 2016

TORONTO -- A four-out save on Sunday was added to the resume of Kenley Jansen, who showed again to be the most indispensible Dodger this side of Clayton Kershaw.

Jansen is a perfect 11-for-11 in saves this year, has converted 23 straight since last year and is only eight shy of Eric Gagne's franchise-record 161 after Sunday's 4-2 win over the Blue Jays, which gave the Dodgers the rubber game of this three-game Interleague series and of the five-game Interleague trip.

Jansen has yet to receive All-Star recognition, but Kershaw said that doesn't mean he lacks respect within the game.

"When you're really good, people can take you for granted," Kershaw said. "You expect him to go 1-2-3 and strike out the side. But he's not an unknown. It's just a matter of him being so good. What you want from a closer is someone who wants the ball, and Kenley embraces it. He wants to be out there, and that's huge."

After a no-decision duel between starting pitchers Ross Stripling of the Dodgers and Marco Estrada of the Blue Jays, Los Angeles' bullpen beat that of Toronto. The Dodgers scored three runs in the final three innings, while Toronto scored an unearned one off Chris Hatcher, who turned into the winning pitcher.

For the second consecutive game, manager Dave Roberts asked Pedro Baez to set it up for Jansen, this time with a one-run lead. Baez sandwiched strikeouts of Ezequiel Carrera and Josh Donaldson around a single to Michael Saunders. Then Roberts brought in Jansen to face Jose Bautista, who flipped a soft liner over the mound floating toward shortstop.

Second baseman Chase Utley, shifted near the bag, dove in front of shortstop Corey Seager to make an inning-ending catch.

"I was holding my breath," Roberts said of the play. "I didn't think he could be there. I didn't think anyone was home."

Being a former outfielder and now a rookie manager, Roberts concedes that managing a bullpen is tougher than he once thought, and he probably doesn't appreciate how lucky he is to have a closer like Jansen on which to rely.

"It's a huge luxury, and fortunately, I don't know any different," Roberts said of Jansen, who has a 0.68 ERA.

Roberts said the factors that went into his decision to bring in Jansen in the eighth were his work pattern on the trip, the potential tying run being on base and the presence of Bautista at bat. He said if nobody had reached base, Baez would have remained in to face Bautista.

Stripling still is without his first victory despite allowing only one run on one hit in six innings, as Estrada allowed only one run on three hits in seven innings. With Stripling at 85 pitches, Roberts said he wanted to give Hatcher, who lost his eighth-inning job, a clean inning, but he again fell behind hitters and gave up two hits and a walk.

Utley started the Dodgers' winning rally leading off the eighth with a walk. One out after Seager's ground-rule double, Yasmani Grandal worked a long at-bat into a tying sacrifice fly, and Howie Kendrick, starting at first base for the first time since 2011, singled in the go-ahead run. Seager singled in an insurance run in the ninth.