ANAHEIM — The Angels were down to their final strike Friday when Kenley Jansen threw four straight balls to Shohei Ohtani. Jansen then watched a stolen base, two errors and two hits conspire to ruin his evening.
Then he visited Yasiel Puig’s locker.
“I told him ‘this is on me, don’t worry about it, man,’” Jansen said.
Then the Dodgers’ closer showered, took questions from two separate groups of reporters and relayed the same message in so many words: The Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Angels on Friday was his fault.
The mood in the visitors’ clubhouse at Angel Stadium was almost foreign. Jansen had converted 21 consecutive save opportunities when he entered in the ninth inning to protect the Dodgers’ 2-1 lead. Ohtani was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts when he stepped into the batter’s box with two outs.
Suddenly, Jansen’s cut fastball kept missing high.
“I just feel like I almost lost my feel on the fastball up in the zone,” he said. “I couldn’t get it where I wanted. That caused that walk. That kind of irritated me. I just have to keep my composure in the game.”
Jansen did not regain his feel by the time the next batter, David Fletcher, dug into the batter’s box. He threw over to first base to keep Ohtani honest, but Ohtani stole second on Jansen’s first pitch to Fletcher. Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal appeared to hesitate before throwing the ball; once he did, the ball veered wildly into center field and Ohtani advanced to third on the throwing error.
Fletcher lined Jansen’s next pitch, a cutter at the top of the zone, into the outfield. The score was tied 2-2.
The next batter, Ian Kinsler, also watched Jansen’s first pitch sail high. He lined the next ball into right field, where Yasiel Puig played a short hop. The speedy Fletcher was running on contact and threatening to score when Puig threw the ball home from the outfield. No cutoff man was tall enough to catch the throw, which bounced in front of Grandal and over his left shoulder to the backstop. No one was backing up home plate. Fletcher, who stopped briefly around third base, scored easily.
“I’ve got to be backing up home plate,” Jansen said. “I saw (Fletcher) stop at third there. That’s my fault. When I see him stop I was going the other direction. I kind of stopped with him instead of me keep going. Like I said, I took this loss on me today. I take all the blame on me today.”
Puig was charged with an error on the play, his fifth of the season. Jansen hadn’t blown a save since April 17.
The loss snapped the Dodgers’ four-game winning streak.
“This was a really frustrating one,” Manager Dave Roberts said. “To have your closer in, one strike away … to give it away like that was tough.
“We haven’t lost a game like this in some time.”
Matt Kemp drove in both Dodger runs and had two of the team’s four hits. Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda pitched 5-2/3 solid innings, striking out nine batters for the third consecutive game. The only run he allowed was on a balk.
In five starts since returning from a strained right hip, Maeda has a 2.54 earned-run average, with 30 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings.
Scott Alexander struck out Albert Pujols to end the sixth inning, then pitched a scoreless seventh. Daniel Hudson pitched a scoreless eighth. The Dodgers are 41-2 this season when leading after eight innings.
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) July 7, 2018
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