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Seager's doubles help LA win bullpen game

Jansen records 4 outs to secure 6th straight 30-save season
@kengurnick
September 18, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers went "bullpenning" on Tuesday night, with relief pitchers from open to close in a potential preview of strategy for a possible Game 4 of the National League Division Series. Corey Seager did the heavy lifting with a pair of two-run doubles as the Dodgers outlasted

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers went "bullpenning" on Tuesday night, with relief pitchers from open to close in a potential preview of strategy for a possible Game 4 of the National League Division Series.

Corey Seager did the heavy lifting with a pair of two-run doubles as the Dodgers outlasted the Rays, 7-5, at Dodger Stadium. Combined with Atlanta’s loss, Los Angeles trimmed its magic number to earn home-field advantage for the National League Championship Series to five.

Box score

Eight pitchers were deployed by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, but the one who mattered most was closer Kenley Jansen, who recorded a four-out save in his third consecutive sharp outing after a season of struggles.

“This is the best I’ve felt the whole year,” said Jansen, who has 30 saves for the sixth consecutive season. “It took me longer this year. Too long. But everything happens for a good reason. Just learn from it, look forward and not back. It wasn’t the easiest one this year. It’s not going to get easier going through postseason.”

While the Dodgers have tried to strike a balance among winning games, trying out players for different roles and resting veterans, Jansen said having NLCS home-field advantage should be a priority.

“It’s very important,” Jansen said. “Just to be in front of your fans, less travel, it’s great. It would be awesome. It’s more comfortable playing here for all of us”

And that comes from someone who has felt their wrath and been the target of boos for the first time in his career.

“Even when you hear some boos, I understand,” Jansen said. “They see me always at a high standard, and I want to see myself there, too. I know they will have my back. It’s nothing personal.”

With Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler locked in as NLDS starters, Roberts said before the game that the fourth-starter picture is “very cloudy” and could result in a strategy that is “a little bit unconventional.”

That would be a fitting description of Tuesday’s game. Left-hander Caleb Ferguson, a late sub to open, went 1 2/3 innings and didn’t give up a hit, but he walked two left-handed batters with one of them scoring in the second inning on Willy Adames’ sacrifice fly.

That led to Julio Urías taking over, followed by Dylan Floro and Ross Stripling, who struck out three in two scoreless innings after he was originally scheduled to start. The Dodgers changed their plans to use Stripling out of the ‘pen, where he’ll be in the postseason.

Pedro Báez, Adam Kolarek and Kenta Maeda (a homer and three runs allowed in one inning) preceded Jansen, who is two saves shy of 300 for his career.

“Obviously, there was a lot of matching up tonight,” said Roberts. “Another good one from Kenley. You saw some sliders, some two-seamers and the cutter. He’s feeling pretty good and when his mechanics are dialed in, everything plays up.”

After facing the Mets' Jacob deGrom on Saturday, the Dodgers opposed Rays left-hander Blake Snell in this game, marking their second 2018 Cy Young Award-winning opponent in three games. Snell, who made his first MLB start since July 29 elbow surgery, struck out four of the six batters he faced.

The Dodgers scored two runs on Seager’s fifth-inning double, but the Rays tied the game in the sixth on Ji-Man Choi’s solo home run off Báez. However, the Dodgers scored five in the seventh, keyed around another Seager two-run double. Gavin Lux and A.J. Pollock added RBI singles, while Cody Bellinger hit an RBI double.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.