Astros 7, Dodgers 5: Rational reactions expected following Kenley Jansen’s meltdown

As fans lined the streets, with trash cans in hand, leading up to Dodger Stadium to greet the Astros, the Dodgers played through what seemed like rather terrible air quality Saturday evening.

For nearly 3 hours, the Dodgers played as they should against a sub-.500 team and entered the 9th with a three-run advantage and the ball in Kenley Jansen‘s hand.

Unfortunately that wasn’t quite remotely enough as he completely melted down in the 9th, with six consecutive batters reaching base. As a result, the Astros took a 6-5 lead, eventually extended to the final of 7-5 with the Dodgers failing to capitalize on a single and a double in their half of the 9th.

In all honesty, this game doesn’t mean all that much with the Dodgers nearly 20 games over .500 and the other side entering the day under .500. Of course, it wasn’t just any sub-.500 team. Rather it is one that prompted this banner to be flown over the field.

Jansen’s disaster outing, coupled with Dave Roberts‘ decision to just leave him out there, spoiled a strong outing from Julio Urias.

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Urias got off to an inauspicious start, as George Springer doubled on the second pitch of the game. Yuri Gurriel drove him in three batters later to score the first run of the day on a two-out single.

From there, Urias seemed to settle in pretty well. No other runner reached second base until the 6th inning thanks to a two-out single. A little bit of that came thanks to his defense, as Corey Seager started a double play in the 3rd and Will Smith threw out Gurriel stealing in the 4th.

A leadoff walk looked like it could end the streak in the 5th, but a fielder’s choice and pair of strikeouts continued the run until his final inning.

Overall, Urias finished the night with 6 IP, allowing 3 hits, 4 walks and striking out 3. The walks weren’t a great look again, as two came to lead off an inning and the other two came with one away.

For the second straight start, Urias leaned heavily on the fourseam and curve with the pitches hitting an identical usage. Throwing 43 fourseamers and 43 curves, 45% of his 96 total pitches, Urias only got one Whiff on 16 swings against the curve, but the exit velocity averaged 73.2 mph.

I still don’t know what to make of Urias this season, as the Whiff and K% are still the only things lagging behind. But you can see he’s in the midst of a transition with his pitch usage. He entered the year with just one other game at 40% or higher usage of the curve, and it was back in a relief appearance against the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series.

I know I didn’t expect this given what we had seen this season, but Urias reached 96 pitches for the first time since August 2016 and just the third time in his career.

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Urias received some run support pretty quickly after that opening inning. While Framber Valdez did finish the day with 7 strikeouts in his 5 IP, he allowed homers on back-to-back pitches in the 2nd.

First it was Chris Taylor, sending a sinker down the middle of the plate to the opposite field over poor Josh Reddick‘s head and into the cardboard for his 4th homer of the season.

Almost got it.

On the very next pitch, the Dodgers sent Reddick into the wall again as Enrique Hernandez hit his 5th homer of the year to right field as well off of another sinker that seemed to be in nearly the exact same spot.

The Dodgers added two more against Valdez, as Seager sent a ball to center that hit Springer on the wrist near the warning track in the 3rd.

Reaching third on the play, Seager soon scored as AJ Pollock sent a sacrifice fly to right field. Two innings later, Seager singled to bring home Mookie Betts who had walked and moved up to second on a wild pitch, all with two outs.

However, that would be the end of the scoring with the Dodger leaving men on second and third in the 6th, as well as wasting Cody Bellinger‘s leadoff single and Joc Pederson‘s pinch hit double in the 9th.

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Taking over for Urias in the 7th, Pedro Baez returned to the mound for the Dodgers. Making his first appearance since Aug. 19 in Seattle, Baez allowed a one-out double to Aledmys Diaz. However, a strikeout and groundout kept the score at 5-1.

Blake Treinen did not keep the game at 5-1, as he allowed a pair of singles around a fielder’s choice. Hernandez did his best to try to turn a double play to end the inning, but even this leap couldn’t get Gurriel at first.

A strikeout to Kyle Tucker did end the 8th with just one run across, allowing Jansen to enter with a three-run lead.

As mentioned above, it wasn’t enough. Back-to-back singles put the lead in danger, but a double for Reddick scored two and seemed to prove Jansen didn’t have it tonight.

Another single, a hard hit ball eventually ruled an error on Max Muncy and yet another single finally ended Jansen’s day with the Dodgers trailing 6-5. Adam Kolarek induced a groundball to save a run with Springer running into an out, but a fly ball to center added on one more before a strikeout ended the 9th.

That would be five runs credited to Jansen in the 9th without recording an out, four of which were earned.

Chad’s already touched on a bit of the problem for Kenley tonight on Twitter, and I am not going to list all of those there, so it is worth checking out.

Put simply, Jansen couldn’t really put anyone away. With 18 of his 21 pitches going for strikes (granted six were in play so of course they were), Jansen was ahead 0-1, 0-2, 1-2, 0-2 and 1-2 on five of the batters who reached base.

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In tonight’s edition of hilarious Fox broadcasting highlights, John Smoltz just can’t believe how much better the Astros were at avoiding strikeouts when they won the World Series.

https://twitter.com/ChadMoriyama/status/1304968399919837185?s=20

Have to respect Joe Davis for his hilariously awkward silence. I’ve never wished for a batter to call time more than I did in that moment, just so Joe wouldn’t be able to transition.

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I’m sure everyone will handle that game well and quickly move on to Sunday’s meeting to wrap up the two-game series. It’ll be Zack Greinke against the Dodgers’ bullpen game on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Sounds terrific.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.