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Dodgers rally in NY, clinch NLDS advantage

Jansen regains form with shutdown 8th; Maeda collects 2-out save
@kengurnick
September 16, 2019

NEW YORK -- The champagne and beer sprayed earlier on the trip when the Dodgers clinched the division in Baltimore. But with an eye on the ultimate prize, the Dodgers might have accomplished even more over the weekend at Citi Field. After getting starters Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu back

NEW YORK -- The champagne and beer sprayed earlier on the trip when the Dodgers clinched the division in Baltimore. But with an eye on the ultimate prize, the Dodgers might have accomplished even more over the weekend at Citi Field.

After getting starters Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu back on track Friday and Saturday, on Sunday night they saw the Kenley Jansen they need to have any chance to go all the way. In a quirky role reversal, Jansen got the win and Kenta Maeda the save in a 3-2 comeback over the Mets.

Box score

The Dodgers clinched home-field advantage in the National League Division Series with St. Louis' loss to Milwaukee during the day. With the win, the Dodgers cut their magic number to seven over Atlanta to clinch home-field advantage through the NL Championship Series.

Dress for success: NL West champions gear

Before the game manager Dave Roberts said Jansen would pitch regardless of the situation and it wasn't just to get work.

"Very important for his confidence, for the team's confidence, and he understands that," Roberts said.

The Dodgers trailed in the top of the eighth and, with the possibility of no bottom of the ninth, Roberts warmed up Jansen for the eighth. By the time he came in, however, the Dodgers had tied the game when Chris Taylor's one-out double scored Jedd Gyorko, who had walked as a pinch-hitter.

Jansen retired Juan Lagares, Jeff McNeil and the slumping Pete Alonso in order, and easily.

"The needle's moved in the right direction," Roberts said of Jansen.

Gyorko's two-out ninth-inning single cashed in Enrique Hernandez's double, and Maeda overcame a walk to get the final two outs. It was the Dodgers' 44th comeback win, ninth when trailing entering the eighth inning, and resulted in the 32nd series win, tying a franchise record.

MLB standings

Jansen has strung back-to-back shutdown appearances, which hasn't happened often this year, and his old demeanor is returning as well.

"My cutter is a feel pitch, and when I feel it click, you've got to hold on to it," Jansen said. "I've been searching the whole year. I finally figured it out. You see the life, the rise and the cut again. It's made me become a better pitcher, because I've used secondary pitches and I've got more weapons."

Jansen said he felt his mechanics sync up while playing long toss a day before his Thursday appearance in Baltimore.

"I don't know how to explain it, it's just muscle memory when I'm doing things well, and for some reason it just clicked," he said.

Jansen said entering the game in the eighth inning reminded him of the postseason, when he might be used for multiple innings.

"Now that we've clinched, it's just get ready for the playoffs," he said.

With that in mind, Roberts said getting Maeda some ninth-inning experience was a bonus. Maeda followed situational lefty Adam Kolarek, who retired the only batter he faced, Michael Conforto, and has an 0.90 ERA in 20 appearances since joining the Dodgers.

Maeda, sent to the bullpen a month ago for his annual transition, was able to warm up quickly with the late change in game situation.

"More important was getting to pitch in a pressure situation," Maeda said. "Pitching in the ninth is different, but this was big for me."

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