LOS ANGELES -- Sandy Koufax was in the clubhouse looking to console Kenley Jansen, only to find he needed no consoling, even after blowing a save on baseball's biggest stage.
"I'm going to get my shot at them. When I get my shot, I'm going to help my team win," Jansen said after the Astros beat the Dodgers 7-6 on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the World Series, in what is shaping up to be a true Fall Classic. "I'll be back for Game 3. The team will give me a shot again, my guys will pick me up again."
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Jansen wasn't always the most accommodating interview after giving it up. But as this Dodgers team has advanced further than any in the past 29 years, Jansen has advanced in his desire to be a leader as much as a closer.
So even though a single by Carlos Correa up the middle off Jansen scored an inherited run in the eighth inning and a leadoff homer off a flat 0-2 cutter in the ninth by Marwin Gonzalez tagged Jansen for only his second blown save of the year and first in the postseason, the closer said he can't wait for Game 3 -- and a chance at redemption -- on Friday night.
"It was a mistake," Gonzalez said. "He doesn't make that many mistakes. He's the best closer in the game. I think I was lucky to get the pitch over the plate."
This is unfamiliar ground for the Dodgers, and for Jansen. Until this game, they hadn't lost a game all season in which they led after eight innings (98-0). Jansen had blown only one save all through the regular season and had set a Major League postseason record by converting his first 12 save opportunities, with four this October, including Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night.
That said, neither Jansen nor the Dodgers can reach back and call upon all the adversity they've overcome to get this far. They had the best record in baseball with 104 wins and a division lead that once was 21 games. And in both previous series against Arizona and the Cubs, they won the first two games.
"Yeah, if you look at the season, we sort of gave ourselves some breathing room out of the gate, and throughout the postseason won games early," said manager Dave Roberts. "But I still think that the preparation, the focus on each day to win each day, I think that will be there. Whether we're up 2-0 or tied 1-1 going into Houston, I don't think that's going to change our mindset.
"We didn't expect these guys to lay down. It's a very good ballclub over there. So take the day tomorrow and we'll be ready to go. Yeah, I think all year long we've done a nice job of recovering, turning the page, whether it's a big win or tough loss. It's a tough loss. Just refocusing on the day at hand. It's a travel day tomorrow. Obviously on this stage it makes it a little tougher, but I have no doubt we'll come refocused."
Yasiel Puig, whose home run leading off the bottom of the 10th helped the Dodgers extend the game another inning, took the loss in stride as well.
"If you thought it was going to go 4-0, you're crazy," Puig said. "These are the two best teams in American baseball. That's what you get."
"No, we're not frustrated," he said. "Nobody tells us it's going to be easy. The Houston Astros, the best team in the American League, we got to flat-out earn it. We'll go to their place and battle."
Jansen had been protecting a lead provided by Corey Seager's two-run homer in the sixth inning that put his team in position for a copycat win of Game 1, until everything went crazy. The Dodgers bullpen was riding a 28-inning scoreless streak when Jansen allowed his inherited runner to score in the eighth, then the Astros proceeded to hit four blasts in the final three innings off Jansen, Josh Fields and Brandon McCarthy to steal the win.
"It's never going to be given to you," said Seager. "Both teams grinded. That's probably what we're both going to do the rest of the series. ... You have to come ready. Obviously, home-field advantage is huge, but you have to win games at their park, too."
Kiké Hernandez, whose RBI single tied the game with two out in the bottom of the 10th, agreed with Seager.
"We've gone through everything this year, and the fact that it's 1-1 right now doesn't really mean anything," he said. "Now it becomes a best-of-five. We don't see why we have to put our heads down or anything. We fought until the end. Nobody was expecting us to come from behind after we fell down two runs. We tied the game. The next inning, we almost did it again. That's what this team is all about. We're going to play hard until the last out of the game is made. We're never going to give up."