The Dodgers’ record at the All-Star break isn’t nearly as impressive as it was last season, and their lead in the National League West is razor thin, half a game over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Still, Kenley Jansen can’t complain about the view.
After nailing down the final three outs of the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Angels in front of 47,871 in Dodger Stadium on Sunday, the closer said he feels better about the team’s position at the break this season than he did in 2017, when the Dodgers were 61-29 with a 7½-game lead en route to a 104-win season.
“I feel like last year, we had it easy,” Jansen said. “Everything was going right for us. Everything was clicking. We went 43-7 [during one stretch]. We were the best team in baseball. This year started with the disappointment of losing the  World Series, and April was horrible for us.
“The one thing I really like about this team is how we figured it out. That kind of shows the types of players we have in this locker room. We put all that stuff behind us. We never panicked. We kept looking forward, kept pressing, kept trying to win ballgames.”
The Dodgers were 16-26 on May 16, tied for last place, 8½ games back. Starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu were on the disabled list, and Rich Hill was about to join them. Shortstop Corey Seager was lost to a season-ending elbow injury. Several hitters were in slumps. The bullpen was a mess.
Do the math: The Dodgers are 37-17 since May 17, going from 10 games below .500 to 10 games above.
“We dug ourselves a hole early, but the way we’re playing now, coming from where we were, we’ll definitely take it,” said Kershaw, who gave up three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight batters and walking four. “We’d like to be 10 games ahead, but we like where we’re at.”
Kershaw credits the team’s rebound to the even-keeled leadership of manager Dave Roberts and the confidence they’ve built during their five-year reign as NL West champions.
“There is a calm because we’ve done it before,” said Kershaw, who had 13 baserunners reach during a 108-pitch effort. “We didn’t panic. We just knew we were playing really bad, and that wasn’t an indicator of how good our team can be.
“And Doc does a great job. He’s a calming presence throughout the season, and he’s super positive. We looked to him, and he’s not worried. That kind of calms us down, and now we’re playing like we should be.”
Kershaw didn’t look too calm in the seventh inning Sunday. The left-hander did a leaping pirouette on the mound when he didn’t get a strike call on a 1-and-1 pitch to Mike Trout and dropped to one knee and pounded his fist in his glove after a full-count pitch to Trout was called a ball, putting two runners on with two outs.
Roberts pulled Kershaw in favor of Kenta Maeda. Kershaw, who struck out Jefry Marte with his 29th pitch of the first inning to escape a bases-loaded jam but gave up a score-tying three-run home run to Marte in the fourth, screamed into his glove as he walked toward the dugout.
“The last pitch was a ball,” Kershaw said, admitting after reviewing the at-bat that umpire Nick Mahrley got the call right. “The 1-1 pitch to Trout was down, too.”
Maeda (7-5), temporarily moved from the rotation to the bullpen, hit Justin Upton with a pitch, loading the bases. He then stirred memories of his dominant postseason run as a reliever last fall by striking out Ian Kinsler with a sweeping slider to preserve a 3-3 tie.
“That was probably the biggest out of the game,” Roberts said.
Hernandez, who had a sacrifice fly in a three-run second inning, lined an 84-mph slider from reliever Taylor Cole (0-2) over the short left-field wall for his 16th home run and a 4-3 Dodgers lead in the seventh.
The Dodgers tacked on a run in the eighth on consecutive singles by Cody Bellinger, Grandal and Andrew Toles. Jansen, who gave up a game-winning home run to Kole Calhoun on Saturday, threw a one-two-three ninth for his 27th save.
“I’m sitting at home [Saturday] feeling down because of one bad pitch,” said Jansen, who flew to Washington on Sunday night for his third consecutive All-Star game. “That motivated me to come out today and pitch well.”