By the time Manny Machado made the first out of his Dodgers career, his new team was three outs from victory, with an All-Star closer waiting to deliver. By the time Kenley Jansen did deliver, the Dodgers’ giddiness in fortifying their roster with an All-Star shortstop had been tempered by the renewed realization they must fortify Jansen’s supporting cast.
It would be a cliche to say Machado’s Dodgers debut went according to script, and besides any good script would have had him hitting a home run. He didn’t do that, but he did reach base in four of five plate appearances.
He neither scored nor drove in a run. He singled twice and walked twice. He was booed every time up, since the home team tried to trade for him and the home fans were unhappy to see him traded to the visiting team.
But his team won. Enrique Hernandez hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning, Rich Hill delivered six innings of one-run ball, and the Dodgers opened the second half of the season with a 6-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Machado, who was liberated from the last-place Baltimore Orioles in the trade to the Dodgers, won a game as a visiting player for the first time since June 23. This truly was the first day of the rest of his life.
“I finally got traded,” he said. “Everything was behind me now. I was able to put on a new uniform today for the first time, and it felt beyond great.
“That blue looks pretty good on me.”
The Dodgers had a fully rested bullpen coming out of the All-Star break, and they were determined to use it. In the kind of slow-playing strategy that infuriates the commissioner, the Dodgers used a different reliever to face four consecutive batters in the eighth inning, with a 3-2 lead.
The strategy nearly cost them the game. They did not use Jansen in the All-Star game to keep him fresh, but they did not use him for more than three outs Friday, and they tried to keep him out of the ninth inning too.
“Kenley is a little over his overall workload, over the last couple of years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I didn’t want him to go four outs tonight.”
Jansen arrived at the break on pace for a career-high 78 innings. He pitched 681/3 innings last season. 682/3 innings the previous season. As Roberts noted, the Dodgers on Friday started a stretch of 17 games without a day off.
So, the Milwaukee eighth, with the Dodgers up 3-1: Scott Alexander got an out. Daniel Hudson gave up a home run to NL home run leader Jesus Aguilar. Zac Rosscup got an out. Dylan Floro gave up a single, and the Brewers had the tying run on base with two out.
“I thought so too,” Jansen said. “But Floro is throwing the ball really well. I think Doc just didn’t want to go there yet. I have confidence in our guys. I don’t think it was necessary for me to come in the eighth in that situation.”
With Jansen unavailable for the four-out save, Floro got Hernan Perez to pop up.
In the ninth inning, after Hernandez homered to increase the Dodgers’ lead from 3-2 to 6-2, the Dodgers told Jansen to sit down and sent Floro back for the bottom of the ninth.
After the first two Brewers reached base, the Dodgers finally summoned Jansen, who gave up a two-run triple to Christian Yelich before retiring Aguilar for the final out.
“I didn’t want Kenley to pitch in a four-run game,” Roberts said. “Save situation, we had to get our guy in there.”
The Dodgers are trying to trade for a relief pitcher, one that could help cover the eighth inning in the way Brandon Morrow did last season. Jansen’s effectiveness in September and October might depend on some help in July and August, not that he would admit to any fatigue on Friday.
“To be honest, not today,” he said. “Today, I felt excited. Manny’s here. Sometimes, you feel it, but I’m not going to let that bother me. Those four days off helped a lot.