There may come a time, perhaps very late in the season, when the Dodgers toast a division championship and reminisce about overcoming the scary heart episode that sidelined Kenley Jansen.
That time seems far, far away at the moment.
For the third consecutive game, the Dodgers’ bullpen lost the game in the opponents’ final at-bat. The Dodgers lost their fourth consecutive game overall, and with it the opportunity to move into a first-place tie in the National League West.
And the Dodgers might have lost their new second baseman too. Brian Dozier left in the ninth inning because of dizziness and was sent for further testing after an initial electrocardiogram revealed abnormalities, manager Dave Roberts said.
Scott Alexander, the closer of the moment, gave up as many hits in two-thirds of an inning Monday as Clayton Kershaw did in the first eight innings. Never in his four-year major league career had Alexander given up four runs in a game, let alone an inning.
Alexander was booed off the mound. He was replaced by Pedro Baez, who was booed onto the mound. And, certainly, a front office that declined to pay the price for a proven reliever at the trade deadline deserves some boos too, for the season appears at risk.
The Dodgers suffered a crushing 5-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, imploding despite the valiant efforts of Kershaw, who worked a season-high eight innings and handed a lead to the bullpen to protect for one inning.
“Kenley has big shoes to fill,” Kershaw said. “We know that. This is a very talented group, guys that we trust and guys that have our backs all season. Scott is going to be just fine.
“Come the ninth inning tomorrow, whoever it may be, we have good faith that they’re going to get the three outs we need.”
Ross Stripling could be the guy in the ninth inning Tuesday. Kenta Maeda could be the guy Wednesday. The Dodgers cleared one bullpen opening by saying that John Axford would be put on the disabled list because of a slight fracture at the tip of his fibula, Roberts said, injured when he was hit by a ball Sunday. He will be out two to three weeks.
Kershaw delivered his longest outing of the year, stopping the Giants on one run and four hits over eight innings, and 110 pitches.
He struck out nine, including the first two batters in the eighth inning. Hunter Pence then fought Kershaw for eight pitches.
Pence squibbed the last pitch, a curveball at 72 mph, a tiny bit up the third base line. Kershaw pounced off the mound, seized the ball like a hawk, and zipped a fastball to first base. The ball barely beat Pence, and Kershaw stalked off the mound with a hellacious fist pump and a 2-1 lead.
With Jansen recovering from an episode of atrial fibrillation, and after a lost series in Denver in which Dodgers relievers lost three of four games and blew a lead in the other, did Roberts consider using Kershaw in the ninth?
“To what end?” Roberts said. “We as a team have got to pick him up and get three outs.”
Said Kershaw: “I would have stayed in. Doc made the choice.”
Alexander gave up consecutive singles with one out, bringing Evan Longoria to the plate with the tying run at second base and the potential winning run at first. Longoria grounded into a force play.
Alexander never got another out. He hit Austin Slater, loading the bases. He gave up the lead on a two-run single by pinch-hitter Nick Hundley. He gave up another run on a single by Gorkys Hernandez, and a fourth run when first baseman Max Muncy committed an error.
Alexander had left the ballpark by the time reporters entered the clubhouse after the game.
The Dodgers will get no sympathy from the opposition, as evidenced when a reporter asked Giants manager Bruce Bochy if he felt sorry for the Dodgers because Jansen was out.