Kenley Jansen blows third straight save as Giants rally again to beat Dodgers

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen reacts after walking San Francisco Giants' Darin Ruf with the bases loaded.
Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen reacts after a controversial checked-swing walk given to the Giants’ Darin Ruf with the bases loaded during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Dave Roberts was adamant about keeping Kenley Jansen as his closer after Wednesday night’s blown save, the Dodgers manager saying, “I’m not going to re-think his role.”

As hard as this may seem to believe, Roberts plans to stick with Jansen as his ninth-inning specialist after another, even uglier meltdown Thursday night, when the right-hander was tagged for four runs and four hits in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Summoned to protect a two-run lead, Jansen imploded before an irate Dodger Stadium crowd of 47,316 that booed him off the mound for a second straight night, the Dodgers losing three of four games to the Giants and falling three games behind them in the National League West.


But Roberts, citing two plays on which the Dodgers thought they had sealed the victory, refused to pin Jansen’s third blown save and loss in as many appearances entirely on his closer.

“He’ll be off [on Friday night], but I thought the play at second base, if we stretch, he’s out, and the game is over. The check swing, the game is over, and we’re not having this conversation. I’m not reconsidering his role.”

Jansen, with a 3-1 lead, opened the ninth by striking out Mike Yastrzemski on three pitches. Wilmer Flores, who hit a game-winning two-run homer off Jansen Wednesday night, dropped a soft single into right field before Jansen struck out Alex Dickerson with a 96-mph fastball for the second out.

Donovan Solano followed with a double to center to put runners on second and third. Pinch-hitter Jason Vosler came back from a 1-and-2 count to draw a walk, and Thairo Estrada hit what appeared to be a game-ending fielder’s-choice grounder to shortstop Chris Taylor, who threw to second.

The Dodgers would have taken about 17 pitchers in a normal 40-round draft, and hitters were difficult to evaluate because of last year’s abbreviated season.

July 22, 2021

But the call was overturned on instant replay, which showed Vosler beat the throw, giving Estrada an infield RBI single that cut the lead to 3-2. Roberts thought Sheldon Neuse, who had entered the game at second to start the ninth, could have stretched more for Taylor’s throw.


“Sheldon is a heck of a ballplayer,” Roberts said, “but in that situation, if we stretch, we get the guy, and there’s no replay.”

First-base umpire Ed Hickox ruled that Darin Ruf checked his swing on a full-count pitch to draw a controversial walk and force in a run that made it 3-3.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he went, and the game should have been over,” Roberts said. “Eddie is a really good umpire, he’s been around for a long time, but in that spot, two contending teams, you just can’t miss that call.”

LaMonte Wade Jr. then lined Jansen’s 33rd pitch of the inning into right field for a two-run single and a 5-3 lead, and Giants left-hander Jake McGee threw a scoreless bottom of the ninth to close the game.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts argues with first base umpire Ed Hickox.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts argues with first base umpire Ed Hickox after San Francisco Giants’ Darin Ruf was issued a bases-loaded walk during the ninth inning on Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Laid to waste by Jansen’s blown save was a superb start by Walker Buehler, who gave up one run and five hits, struck out nine and walked one in 71/3 innings.

“There’s a lot of people that are really pissed off in that room, and I’m leading the way,” Roberts said. “We should have won that game. The game should have been over a couple of times.”

The Dodgers had snapped a 1-1 tie in the fourth when Justin Turner led off with a single to center field off Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani and Will Smith drove a first-pitch, 95-mph fastball 416 feet over the center-field wall for his 13th homer of the season and a 3-1 lead.

They had a chance to tack on in the seventh when they put two on with no outs, courtesy of an error and a walk, but Buehler struck out looking after failing to bunt the runners up, Taylor popped out to the catcher and Max Muncy grounded back to the mound.

The Giants struck first when Wade smacked Buehler’s first pitch of the game, a 95-mph fastball, to left field for a double, stole third and scored on Yastrzemski’s sacrifice fly to left for a 1-0 lead.

Kenley Jansen gave up three runs in the ninth inning as the San Francisco Giants rallied to beat Dodgers 4-2 on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

July 21, 2021

The Dodgers wasted no time knotting the score, as Taylor opened the bottom of the first with a single to center, Max Muncy singled to right, advancing Taylor to third, and Turner lined a run-scoring single to right to make it 1-1.

Roberts said Muncy will travel to Phoenix, where his wife, Kellie, is scheduled to have labor induced to deliver the couple’s first child, a girl, on Friday. The infielder will miss the weekend series against Colorado but will return for next week’s three-game series in San Francisco.