Between the Los Angeles Kings’ miraculous Stanley Cup run, the World Cup, the upcoming NBA draft, and well, the fact that most of their fanbase is still unable to watch their games, the Los Angeles Dodgers have rather quietly walked into the summer months in position for a wild card berth, and only four games behind the first place San Francisco Giants in the National League West. Considering ALL of the injury issues the Dodgers have had (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, A.J. Ellis, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Withrow, Brian Wilson, Carl Crawford, etc.), as well as the frequent consternation about the outfield, and the uncertainty of a Hanley Ramirez contract extension, the Dodgers have actually done a really good job of weathering the storm.
Entering Friday night’s series opener with the Padres in San Diego, the Dodgers had won three in a row while the Giants had lost eight of nine. With the Giants losing Friday night’s game in Arizona against the Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers up 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, things were looking great for the ‘Boys in Blue’. That’s when Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen had an epic meltdown–allowing three straight hits, followed by a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly–giving the Padres a 6-5 victory. Sure, Jansen hasn’t looked like his usual dominant self this season, but that was an inexcusable performance.
Baseball is often a funny game, however, and Jansen was called upon again on Saturday and Sunday to close out both of those games. On Saturday, Josh Beckett continued his resurgent season, going a strong seven innings, allowing no runs on four hits, and striking out eight batters. Jansen took care of the Padres in the ninth inning on 11 pitches (nine strikes), allowing one hit, and striking out one batter.
On Sunday, Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched a solid six innings, allowing only one run on four hits. Jansen flat-out dominated the Padres in the ninth inning on 13 pitches (1o strikes), allowing no base-runners, and striking out the side. Despite having already pitched in back-to-back games, Jansen was in command from the first pitch he threw–which was a stark contrast to his messy outing on Friday night. Although the Dodgers would have loved to have left San Diego with a sweep, they were certainly happy to escape with a series victory and the fourth best road record in the major leagues.
The Dodgers now continue their road trip in Kansas City starting Monday with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw taking the mound for the first two games of the series, before returning home on Thursday to begin a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals. They hope to get Juan Uribe back from the disabled list when they return home, so more good news appears to be on the horizon for the Dodgers.