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Jansen rewards Roberts' faith with save

Dodgers closer appears in 3rd straight game for 2nd time this season
September 14, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- With the game on the line Friday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn't hesitate to turn to closer Kenley Jansen.Jansen pitched for the third consecutive game and earned his 35th save in the Dodgers' 3-0 win over the Cardinals. He hit the first batter in the ninth, Yairo

ST. LOUIS -- With the game on the line Friday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn't hesitate to turn to closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen pitched for the third consecutive game and earned his 35th save in the Dodgers' 3-0 win over the Cardinals. He hit the first batter in the ninth, Yairo Munoz, but set down the next three hitters, including a strikeout of Paul DeJong to end the game.
"We had a talk and I believe what he was saying, what I was hearing, was real," Roberts said. "Tonight was considerably different. There was a lot of conviction tonight. He wanted the baseball. It was good to see him throw the way he did."
Roberts said before the game that there would be more conversations with Jansen in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Entering Friday, Jansen had allowed at least one run in five of his last 10 outings since Aug. 20, when he rejoined the team after being shut down for 13 days because of an irregular heartbeat.
Jansen, a three-time All-Star with 265 career saves, permitted two ninth-inning runs Thursday but held on in the Dodgers' 9-7 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Jansen walked two and said after the game that his lack of command is what bothers him the most.
"Not throwing strikes is one that's frustrating," Jansen said. "But you've got to keep going. You can't let it bother you."
Roberts expects Jansen to be fine, but just to make sure, he said he probably will seek him out frequently for a discussion. Friday was the first.
"He's great. Ready to go," Roberts said. "Champing at the bit. [Closers] should be. If he wasn't, I would be worried. But I've got to see what's real and what's not real. He's ready to go."
Roberts said control problems are "very uncharacteristic of Kenley."
"You never want to hear a pitcher say, 'Can't throw strikes,'" Roberts said. "That's not good, but with Kenley's track record and his ability to execute pitches, I take that with a grain of salt.
"He's an emotional guy. He's got to learn to continue to grow and control his emotions. I've told him that. We're still working on that. Kenley will be fine."
Roberts said he won't hesitate to use Jansen in back-to-back games. Three consecutive games, however, is a different consideration, and that's not even factoring Jansen's heart issue.
Before Friday, Jansen, 30, had pitched in three straight games only one other time this season (May 1-3). He appeared in four of five games in mid-July.
"When you're talking about three days in a row -- and that's not even what he's gone through physically," Roberts said. "It's more of a separate kind of deal."
Rehab roundup
Relievers Tony Cingrani (left shoulder strain) and John Axford (broken right fibula) made rehab appearances for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga on Friday in its playoff game against Visalia.
Cingrani threw one scoreless inning, walking one and striking out two. Axford allowed an earned run in one inning, walked one and struck out one.
Axford is closer to a return to the Dodgers than Cingrani, Roberts said. Both were scheduled to pitch one inning.
"We'll see how they come out of it," Robert said. "These guys want to get back and pitch in some meaningful games for us. Hopefully, it goes well and we can get them back."
Roberts said the Dodgers will need to see more from Cingrani (1-2, 4.84 ERA) than one outing in the Minors, with simulated games remaining a possibility.
Axford, acquired from the Blue Jays on July 31, has pitched in just three games for the Dodgers and allowed six runs.
"With Ax, it's possible that the one-and-done, potentially, could get him back here with us," Roberts said. "But we haven't made that decision."

David Wilhelm is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis.