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Muncy homers for LA's 11th walk-off win of '19

Roberts says 'Kenley's our closer' after righty's sixth blown save
August 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Max Muncy has homered in five consecutive games, and has 33 on the season. His one-out home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium gave the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays. It was the 11th walkoff win this

LOS ANGELES -- Max Muncy has homered in five consecutive games, and has 33 on the season. His one-out home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium gave the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays.

It was the 11th walkoff win this year for Los Angeles, which has played a big part in its phenomenal 50-16 record at home.

Teams with most walk-off wins in a season

“I can’t count how many big hits he’s had for us,” manager Dave Roberts said of Muncy. “When we’re at home, we feel if the game’s tied, we have a good chance to finish it with a walk-off.”

Box score

Scuffling Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen blew another save, but Roberts called the ninth-inning homer that Jansen allowed to Rowdy Tellez “a little hiccup” and also said, “Kenley’s our closer.”

Muncy salvaged seven scoreless innings by starter Walker Buehler and the nightly home run by rookie Will Smith, who has 12 in 28 games and six in the last seven contests.

Downplaying the weak link in an otherwise powerhouse team plays better when that team can still pull out a walk-off win.

Jansen, a three-time All-Star and the franchise save leader, was booed at home coming off the field after the third out of his inning. He didn’t speak afterward to the media, which was instructed to leave the clubhouse. So it was left for Roberts and Tellez to describe the 3-2 cutter that was several inches inside when the left-handed Tellez clobbered it to tie the game with one out.

“I just felt he had a chance to throw a slider down below and went to the well one too many times,” said Roberts. “Actually, it wasn’t a bad pitch. But when you give a guy with power multiple looks in the same quadrant, it decreases your margin. I know Kenley feels bad, but he got a [strikeout] and some soft contact. Unfortunately, he couldn’t put up a zero.”

Jansen has blown six save opportunities this season, including the last two (the previous one on Aug. 6), and in the interim has been used in non-save situations as Roberts and the staff have tried to reset Jansen’s command and confidence. Since June 26, he has as many blown saves as converted ones -- three each.

Roberts said Jansen’s competitiveness sometimes leads him to rely too much on the only pitch he needed in his earlier years -- the cutter.

“You feel you can make a pitch and not go to a secondary, and even in that sequence he made a good pitch with a two-seamer, and you could see Tellez was in swing mode right there. If Kenley gets it above the zone, we’re not having this conversation. But it was sort of in his nitro zone and he put a good swing on it.

"You just have to continue to play it out. The 20 throws he made, 19 were very good. Even the 20th was a good throw, unfortunately it just went out of the ballpark.”

Tellez essentially confirmed Roberts’ theory: “I went back and looked at it, it was a ball. But I knew he had an elite cutter, one of the best cutters in the game, and I swung, kind of beat him to the spot. I knew what they were trying to do, they’d been doing it all game, and like I said, just wanted to beat him to the spot, get the pitch before it got to me.”

Pedro Báez and Joe Kelly pitched scoreless innings and they are the fallback options, unless rookies Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin win their tryouts.

Roberts said Jansen’s last few outings were solid and “if there’s a save situation, he’ll be back out there. Kenley’s our closer. It’s good to have options, but right now, Kenley’s our closer. I still think Kenley is tracking in a positive direction, regardless of the outcome.”