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The Sports Report: Kenley Jansen blows another save against Giants

Kenley Jansen reacts after walking Darin Ruf with the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Mike DiGiovanna on the Dodgers: 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.

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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 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 Vogler 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.

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.

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ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: Andrew Heaney took a long pause and stared toward the distance.

Asked earlier this week if his up-and-down 2021 season was feeling similar to his inconsistent campaigns in years past, the Angels starter wanted to think before answering.

“It feels a little bit similar,” he finally responded. “But in years past, I felt like I haven’t felt like I would go through such a downswing.”

A few nights later, Heaney finally snapped it in the Angels’ 3-2 win Thursday against the Minnesota Twins.

After giving up 19 runs in his previous 18 ⅓ innings, Heaney surrendered just two runs in a season-high seven-inning outing at Target Field -- a long-sought return to form for the 30-year-old left-hander who will be a free agent this winter.

Unlike past outings, he didn’t squander at-bats when he got ahead, striking out seven batters and retiring the side on 13 or fewer pitches four different times.

Unlike past outings, he prevented crooked numbers on the scoreboard, scattering only four hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch while importantly giving up no home runs.

And, unlike past outings, he avoided a bad start with a scoreless first inning (he previously had a 7.88 ERA in the opening frame), and finished strong by retiring his final 11 batters.

“After the fifth inning, something kicked in,” Maddon said of Heaney, adding: “He just kept getting better. Not really complicated. I thought he got more aggressive with the fastball. Had really good ride at home plate. And that’s what they were having a hard time with.”

UCLA MEN’S BASKETBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: Jalen Suggs sinking that 40-footer off the backboard and leaping onto a courtside table in celebration may not be the most recent image in the UCLA-Gonzaga basketball rivalry as of late November.

Rhe teams anticipate staging a rematch of their Final Four classic on Nov. 23 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as part of a four-team event in which the Bruins and Bulldogs would also play a mid-major opponent the previous day.

The game between UCLA and Gonzaga comes with an intriguing subplot beyond giving the Bruins an opportunity for quick revenge.

Both teams are jostling for the top spot in the preseason national rankings, meaning that the winner of this game could put itself in prime position to get the No. 1 seed in the West region. Whoever emerges with that designation would get a coveted path to New Orleans for the Final Four, with the West regional semifinals and final set for San Francisco’s Chase Center.

LAKERS

Broderick Turner on the Lakers: The Lakers have extended a qualifying offer to Talen Horton-Tucker, making the second-year guard a restricted free agent this offseason, the team announced Thursday.

Had the team not extended the offer, Horton-Tucker would have become an unrestricted free agent. The Lakers can now match any offer he receives during free agency.

Horton-Tucker, who was drafted 46th overall in 2019, averaged 9.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 65 games last season. The 6-foot-4 wing shot 45.8% from the field and 77.5% from the free-throw line but only 28.2% from three-point range.

NFL

NFL teams have been warned they could forfeit a game because of a coronavirus outbreak among unvaccinated players, and players on both teams wouldn’t get paid that week.

“As we learned last year, we can play a full season if we maintain a firm commitment to adhering to our health and safety protocols and to making needed adjustments in response to changing conditions,” commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday in a memo sent to clubs that was obtained by the Associated Press.

Goodell says the league doesn’t anticipate adding a 19th week to accommodate games that can’t be rescheduled within the 18-week regular season.

“If a game can’t be rescheduled and is canceled due to a COVID outbreak among non-vaccinated players on one of the competing teams, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and will be deemed to have played 16 games for purposes of draft, waiver priority, etc,” Goodell says in the memo.

OLYMPICS

Where’s the Olympics coverage? You will be receiving a special Olympics edition of the Sports Report, which should hit your inbox around 7 a.m. PT each day, and will run daily during the Games. You can also check out all of our Olympics coverage by clicking here.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1907 — Australasia beats British Isles 3-2 to win the Davis Cup held at Wimbledon. Australasia wins its first David Cup and ends the four-year reign of the British Isles.

1921 — At the annual Harvard-Yale vs. Cambridge-Oxford meet at Harvard Stadium, Harvard’s Edward Gourdin becomes the first to long jump 25 feet. Harvard lists Gourdin’s jump as 25 feet, 3 inches, but the official listing in U.S. Track and Field is 25-2.

1960 — Betsy Rawls becomes the first woman to win the U.S. Women’s Open golf title four times.

1966 — John Pennel pole vaults 17 feet, 6 1/4 inches for the world record in a meet at Los Angeles. It’s the eighth of nine world records he set in the event in his career and his first since 1963.

1976 — The last NFL All-Star game is held and is shortened when thunderstorms hit Chicago. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the All-Stars 24-0.

1978 — Hollis Stacy wins the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship for the second straight year.

1989 — Mark Calcavecchia wins the British Open, edging Greg Norman and Wayne Grady in a three-man playoff. Calcavecchia, the first American to win the Open in five years, birdies three of the four holes in the playoff.

1989 — Greg Lemond wins his second Tour de France with the closest finish ever, edging Laurent Fignon by 8 seconds. Lemond starts the day 50 seconds behind Fignon and wins the final stage, a 15-mile race against the clock from Versailles to Paris, in 26:57. Fignon finishes the stage 58 seconds slower.

1995 — John Daly wins the British Open at St. Andrews by four strokes in a four-hole playoff with Italy’s Costantino Rocca. Rocca forces the playoff by sinking a 65-foot putt on the 18th hole.

1995 — Miguel Indurain of Spain wins his record fifth consecutive Tour de France. Indurain joins Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault as the other five-time winners.

2000 — Tiger Woods, at 24, becomes the youngest player to win the career Grand Slam with a record-breaking performance in the British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Woods closes with a 3-under 69 for a 19-under 269 total, the lowest score in relation to par at a major championship.

2006 — Tiger Woods, one month after missing the cut for the first time in a major, becomes the first player since Tom Watson in 1982-83 to win consecutive British Open titles.

2006 — Floyd Landis, pedaling with an injured hip, cruises to victory in the Tour de France, keeping cycling’s most prestigious title in American hands for the eighth straight year.

2009 — Mark Buehrle pitches the 18th perfect game in major league history, a 5-0 win over Tampa Bay.

2012 — Penn State is all but leveled by penalties handed down by the NCAA for its handling of the allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The NCAA imposes an unprecedented $60 million fine, a four-year ban from postseason play and a cut in the number of football scholarships it can award.

And finally

Mark Buehrle pitches a perfect game. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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