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The Sports Report: It all falls apart for the Dodgers

Dodgers Phillies Baseball
Bryce Harper hits the game-winning two-run double.
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell and it was so hot Tuesday that I saw a bird using an oven mitt on its beak to pull a worm out of the ground.

Dodgers

Well that didn’t go as planned. It looked like the Dodgers had pulled off another of their improbable comeback victories on Tuesday night after Matt Beaty hit a three-run home run in the top of the ninth in Philadelphia to give the team an 8-6 lead. Unfortunately, the Phillies still had a chance to bat. The Dodgers turned to Kenley Jansen, who gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth of a 9-8 loss.

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Jansen took a comebacker off his right ankle during the inning, which was swollen after the game.

“I’m not an excuses guy, but I shouldn’t have kept pitching,” Jansen said. “That’s the one thing i learned. I should’ve come out of the game.”

“He’s in the game and felt that he could continue to go,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So once he gives us that assurance that he can’t hurt himself more and feels like he can make pitches, then we wanted to keep him going.”

Jansen said he couldn’t push off the mound. He stayed in the game anyway.

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“I’m not a quitter, man,” Jansen said. “Even if it hurts, I’m still going to go out there and compete. But I should be a little more smart out there myself and be honest with myself and come out of the game. So, I just put the blame on myself.”

Let’s face it. As I have written many times in our Dodgers newsletter (sign up here), injured or not, Jansen is no longer the elite closer he once was. He doesn’t throw as hard, his cutter doesn’t cut as much and his location is often off. No, the Dodgers shouldn’t release him, as some of you have told me, but when he comes in the game, it’s not longer a guaranteed win as it once felt like when he pitched. He’s not a bad pitcher, he’s just not dominant anymore.

The Dodgers have two weeks until the trade deadline to acquire some bullpen help. They desperately need some bullpen help. There is little doubt the Dodger brain trust is aware of this fact. They have acquired trade deadline help every year. All Dodger fans can do is wait and see what happens. This team will look different on Aug. 1. The question is, will the bullpen be fixed in time for the playoffs? Because a great offense and strong starting pitching can overcome a shaky bullpen in a 162-game season enough times to put you in the playoffs. But it seems unlikely it can in a seven-game playoff series.

The Dodgers, and their fans, want to win the World Series. But games like this make many of those fans wonder if they can even get to the World Series this year.

Which again leads me to this week’s poll. The Dodgers have one of the best records in baseball, but some fans are concerned that their bullpen will cost them a possible World Series title. So this week’s question is, do you think the Dodgers will win the World Series this year? Vote in our poll by clicking here, or email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Results will be revealed next week.

More reading:

Dodgers in no hurry to move Julio Urias from his current bullpen role

Angels

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Meanwhile, in Anaheim, the Angels continue their surge with a 7-2 win over the Houston Astros. It was the Angels’ fifth straight win and moved them four-and-a-half games behind in the race for the final wild-card spot in the AL.

As our Maria Torres wrote here,

“The Angels could have wilted without the presence of their most intimidating hitter in the lineup. But for the second consecutive night playing without Mike Trout as he recovers from a minor calf injury, the Angels rolled to a 7-2 victory over the rival Houston Astros.

“The Angels exacted the bulk of their damage in a first inning that, between the sides, took 37 minutes to complete. David Fletcher led off the Angels’ half poking a double to the warning track in right field; he came back to the plate 20 minutes later to end the inning with a flyball out.

“In between, Astros opener Hector Rondon allowed five Angels to reach without recording an out. Andrelton Simmons bopped a single to right. Shohei Ohtani, whose 2018 rookie of the year campaign was celebrated with a giveaway bobblehead of him swinging, tapped a ball to the left side of the infield that pulled shortstop Alex Bregman toward third base. By the time Bregman rid himself of the ball, Ohtani had crossed the first base bag safely for an infield single that drove in Fletcher.

Rondon hit Kole Calhoun with the bases loaded, then Astros nemesis Albert Pujols knocked a double down the first-base line to clear the bases. Rookie Luis Rengifo followed Pujols’ hit, which increased the veteran’s career RBI total against the Astros to 163, with a ball that skittered past a diving Jake Marisnick to the center-field warning track for an RBI triple and 6-0 lead.

More reading

Albert Pujols an asset on the bases despite lacking speed

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Benches clear in Angels-Astros game after Jake Marisnick is hit by a pitch

Boxing

Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao are in Las Vegas for their fight on Saturday. Here’s an excerpt from our story:

“Keith Thurman was provocative, often bold. Manny Pacquiao was philosophical, sometimes political.

“Welcome to the beginning of fight week, the so-called Grand Arrival Tuesday for the Pacquiao-Thurman bout Saturday at the MGM Grand. For a lobby full of fans, that meant cheers and maybe an autograph. For the media, it meant body language before the punches. No winners here. Just some pre-fight interpretation

“First Thurman, then Pacquiao met the media after saying hello to the crowd.

“Thurman arrived wearing his heart on his sleeve, or least across his chest. “Game Over,” it said on his black T-shirt. It might be a video game. But Thurman wasn’t playing games Tuesday. For a few hours, it expressed his intent.

“Of course, this is meant for Manny Pacquiao,” Thurman said.

“The unbeaten Thurman wasn’t exactly clear how it would end for Pacquiao, the 40-year-old welterweight who hopes to take Thurman’s 147-pound title and place it alongside all of his other titles, including his current one as a Filipino Senator.

“Keith Thurman is a diverse, complete fighter,” said Thurman, the welterweight who often refers to himself in the third person.

“He is approaching his bout against Pacquiao with confidence and an abundance of energy. He’s anxious, perhaps, to prove he is finally back. He has fought only once since beating Danny Garcia in March 2017. He underwent surgery on his right elbow. He underwent rehab for a bad bruise on his left hand. Inactivity means rust, enough of it to look beatable in scoring a decision over Josesito Lopez on Jan. 26.

“Inactivity wasn’t a blessing,” he said. “It wasn’t a downfall either. But it kept me out of the limelight, too. Right now, I’m living one of the most positive moments of my career.

“All athletes get injured and battle to come back. Baseball, football. It’s part of it. Tiger Woods, look at what happened to him. He was out, he was gone and everybody wondered if he’d come back. He did. But this ain’t golf.”

“No, it’s what Mike Tyson once called “the hurt business.” There’s no clubhouse. Just an emergency room.

“But not to worry, Thurman said. He says this is the year he is back as the healthy, strong fighter fans remember.

“I’m healthy, healthy enough to whip some . . . ,” Thurman said.

“As Pacquiao took his turn, he was told about some of what Thurman said. He was asked about the T-shirt and about what Thurman said it meant. Pacquiao smiled.

“That’s good,” he said. “I like that.”

Sports poll

The Dodgers have the best record in baseball, but some fans are concerned that their bullpen will cost them a possible World Series title. So this week’s question is, do you think the Dodgers will win the World Series this year? Vote in our poll by clicking here, or email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Results will be revealed next week.

Your favorite sports moment

What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why, and I’ll start running them in future newsletters. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too. And the moment doesn’t have to have happened in L.A., just needs to involve an area team.

Odds and ends

After Santa Anita horse deaths, uncertainty clouds the Del Mar summer racing season…. Onyeka Okongwu hones skills in Drew League before arrival at USC…. British Open: Phil Mickelson gets himself and his game in shape…. Arsenal and Bayern Munich meet at Dignity Health Sports Park in preseason tuneup…. ‘Did they just do thaaat?’ Lakers parodied in ‘Family Matters’ intro…. Goalie Cal Petersen signs contract extension with Kings…. Brian Sieman close to finalizing deal to be next Clippers TV broadcaster.

Other newsletters

We also have other newsletters you can subscribe to for free. They are emailed to you and we don’t sell your name to other companies, so no spam from us. They are:

Our Dodgers newsletter, written by me. Subscribe here.

Lakers newsletter, written by Tania Ganguli. Subscribe here.

Horse racing newsletter, written by John Cherwa. Subscribe here.

Soccer newsletter, written by Kevin Baxter. Subscribe here.

Today’s local major sports schedule

Dodgers at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Houston at Angels, 7 p.m., FSW, AM 830

Born on this date

1917: Baseball player Lou Boudreau

1920: IOC chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch

1941: NFL player Daryle Lamonica

1942: NBA player Connie Hawkins

1944: Soccer player Carlos Alberto Torres

1949: Dodgers broadcaster Charley Steiner

1956: NHL player Bryan Trottier

1960: NFL player Scott Norwood

1963: Ski jumper Matti Nykanen

1980: NHL player Ryan Miller

Died on this date

1961: Baseball player Ty Cobb, 74

1974: Baseball player Dizzy Dean, 63

2015: Race car driver Jules Bianchi, 25

And finally

Daryle Lamonica talks football. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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