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Dodgers' bullpen falters in tough Game 5 loss

Typically reliable relief group stung by Astros rallies, four homers
October 30, 2017

HOUSTON -- Pacing in the Minute Maid Park bullpen as he watched World Series Game 5 swing back and forth in the middle innings, Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow decided to call an audible.Morrow had talked with manager Dave Roberts before the game and was aware of the team's intentions. He

HOUSTON -- Pacing in the Minute Maid Park bullpen as he watched World Series Game 5 swing back and forth in the middle innings, Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow decided to call an audible.
Morrow had talked with manager Dave Roberts before the game and was aware of the team's intentions. He was to be hands off on Sunday after having pitched four times in five days for the first time this season. But on this stage with these stakes, Morrow couldn't sit still. He phoned down to Los Angeles' dugout insisting he had something to give.
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Roberts obliged and sent his trusted setup man into the seventh inning of a game that the Dodgers led by one. It became one of a series of bullpen calls Roberts made that didn't produce the desired outcome. The result was a stinging 13-12 loss in which the L.A. got shutdown relief from just two of six relievers used.
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"I think it was a little bit selfish to try and get in when there was a plan to stay away," Morrow said as he revisited his decision. "I guess everybody is trying to step up."
Morrow had earned the leverage, though, with his sensational run through October. He had appeared in all but one of the Dodgers' postseason games and had allowed two runs on six hits over 12 1/3 innings.
"You can't turn him down," Roberts said. "He felt good. He wanted to be in the game. And it's a credit to him to be used like he has been and want the baseball."
But desiring and delivering didn't equate on Sunday. Morrow's first pitch was blasted by George Springer for a game-tying homer. He allowed two more hits before Carlos Correa connected for a three-run shot. The four runs allowed were the most by Morrow in a game since 2015.
"I felt good throwing. I felt like the ball was coming out in the 'pen," said Morrow, who had never previously pitched on three straight days. "Looking at it on tape, there wasn't quite as much life on the ball. I think that was the main thing. The velocity was all right. It was a tick down. But if you still have life on it then you can get away with some pitches."
In all, Los Angeles' bullpen served up four home runs on the night, something that it had done just once all year until this World Series. Now, it's occurred twice in four games.

Kenta Maeda, who had retired 27 of the 30 batters he faced in the postseason, allowed Jose Altuve's game-tying three-run homer in the fifth. Astros catcher Brian McCann then took Tony Cingrani deep in the eighth to give Houston a temporary three-run lead.

Roberts, who had Kenley Jansen ready for the eighth inning, explained that he turned to Cingrani instead due to circumstance.
"Right then, at that point, we were down," Roberts said. "If we had [gotten] to within one, I would have brought [Jansen] in to try to have him go one-plus [innings]. When you're down two runs, I just didn't see that that made a whole lot of sense."
Jansen would end up getting his chance anyway after the Dodgers mustered a three-run rally in the ninth. The All-Star closer pitched around a double in the ninth but couldn't do so again when a hit batter and walk extended the 10th with two out.
Jansen threw Alex Bregman a first-pitch cutter that the third baseman lined into left field for a walk-off RBI single.

"I tried to go up and in and missed my spot and he did a great job," Jansen said. "I just missed my location. It's over, man. [I've] just got to worry about Tuesday."
Jansen, who blew a save in Game 2, went 180 regular and postseason appearances without allowing runs in three straight outings before this World Series.

Entering this October, just once in World Series history had a team allowed six runs in relief twice in the same series. Both the Dodgers and Astros have now done so in the last week.
"It is frustrating, but what can you do?" Jansen said. "I'm already moving forward from this, already looking at Tuesday. They've got to beat all 25 of us to win it. I'm confident in our guys. It ain't going to be easy."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.