MILWAUKEE -- Kenley Jansen is turning every slight, no matter how small, into fuel.:: NLCS schedule and results ::Jansen has heard everything about the Brewers' bullpen in the National League Championship Series. It is talented. It is deep. It is unflappable. It could be the key to Milwaukee's first trip
MILWAUKEE -- Kenley Jansen is turning every slight, no matter how small, into fuel.
:: NLCS schedule and results ::
Jansen has heard everything about the Brewers' bullpen in the National League Championship Series. It is talented. It is deep. It is unflappable. It could be the key to Milwaukee's first trip to the World Series since 1982.
Now, nobody has said much bad about the Dodgers' bullpen in the past week, but nobody has said it can match its counterpart, either.
"Everything negative I just use as motivation," Jansen said following Saturday's 4-3 victory over the Brewers in Game 2 at Miller Park, which evened the best-of-seven series. "I'm aware of everything. I know the last two months weren't great for me. We all take it personally. Here we are. We're showing it today."
Jansen earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning, picking up the final three of 14 outs recorded by the Dodgers' bullpen in Game 2. Milwaukee jumped on Los Angeles left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu early, knocking him out of the game with one out in the fifth.
But Ryan Madson, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro, Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Kenta Maeda and Jansen allowed one hit and one run, issued four walks and struck out four the rest of the way.
The Brewers' bullpen? It gave up four runs in 3 1/3 innings. It suddenly looks fallible, at least against the Dodgers' patient and powerful offense.
"That's something that to a man, I think our guys are taking it personal, as a challenge, because our guys are pretty good back there, too," manager Dave Roberts said. "And so there's not a whole lot said about them. But without those guys, we wouldn't be in this position."
Madson replaced Ryu with runners on second and third and one out in the fifth. He intentionally walked Christian Yelich before Ryan Braun hit a slow grounder to score a run and make it 2-0. Jesus Aguilar struck out to end the inning. Wood surrendered a homer to Travis Shaw in the sixth to hand Milwaukee a 3-0 lead, but L.A.'s bullpen did not allow another hit the rest of the game.
"Every bullpen is good," Madson said. "You get the best guys who can't start … in the world. Everybody is good. It's just a matter of putting it together and performing. So I think we have done a good job of performing in the moment and making good, big pitches.
"But to have Kenley cap it off, that really solidifies what we all did before him. It feels good. It's complete."
Jansen missed time in August because of a heart scare. He allowed seven runs in four innings in his first four appearances back from the disabled list. But Jansen posted a 2.70 ERA in his final 14 regular-season appearances, striking out 16 and walking two in 13 1/3 innings.
So far this postseason, Jansen has struck out four and allowed one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings.
Jansen issued a one-out walk to Hernan Perez in the ninth, but he fanned Lorenzo Cain on three pitches for the second out. It sent Yelich, who is likely to be named the NL MVP Award winner next month, to the plate. He stepped into the batter's box 3-for-5 with one double and one triple in five career plate appearances against Jansen.
But Yelich, who is 1-for-8 in this series, grounded out to third on a 1-2 cutter to end the game.
"That's the past," Jansen said of Yelich's prior success against him. "What you can control is today. You can't control what happened in the past. You can't put that in your mind. That means you've already beat your mind up. You've got to keep everything quiet and calm everything down. It's about today. It's about trying to steal one here."
The Dodgers stole one because a rock-solid bullpen put Justin Turner in position to smash a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth. Not too many people are talking about that, but that's OK with Los Angeles' relievers. They dig the slights.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.