Tough-luck Dodgers aim to rebound vs. D-Backs

By Jack Magruder, The Sports Xchange
Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Photo by Jim Ruymen | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/a09928de00bdf723488c2bf166b730c0/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Photo by Jim Ruymen | License Photo

PHOENIX -- Los Angeles Dodgers shut-down closer Kenley Jansen has looked entirely mortal in his first two appearances this season.

His slow start that could lead the rest of the NL West teams to believe -- however temporary and perhaps misguided -- that they have more than a glimmer of hope in the late innings against the five-time defending division champions.


Jansen gave up a three-run, game-tying homer run to Chris Owings to even the game at six in the last of the ninth inning Monday, and the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied again in the 15th inning for an 8-7 victory in the first game of a three-game series Monday. The game took five hours and 45 minutes, the longest in terms of time in Chase Field history. The Diamondbacks have won three their first four.


Nick Ahmed and Jeff Mathis had RBI hits off Wilmer Font in the last of the 15th inning after Chase Utley's two-out single in the top of the inning put the Dodgers ahead.

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"Guys kept grinding all night long," said Mathis, who said in a TV interview that he would have pitched the 16th inning had the game continued. Fernando Salas, the eighth Arizona pitcher, went three innings for the victory.

The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw will make his second start of the season while Arizona right-hander Zack Godley will make his second debut in the second game of the series on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks won the season series 11-8 last year but were swept in three games in the NLCS.

Owings hit Jansen's pet pitch, a first-pitch cut fastball that registered 91 mph, after Jansen walked Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb with two outs in the inning. Jansen threw 24 pitches, 12 strikes, and only two registered as high as 93 mph.

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The performance was notable in that it came three days after San Francisco second baseman Joe Panik hit a 90 mph cutter from Jansen while leading off the top of the ninth inning in the Giants' 1-0 victory last Friday.


Jansen's cutter was clocked in the 93-94 mph range every season in seven of his previous eight major league seasons, but it has been a shade over 90 in his first two appearances this year.

"Who cares? Who cares?" Jansen said, pooh-poohing questions about his velocity last Friday.

"It don't matter. It's a long season. Sometimes it's going to happen."

Jansen had given up homers in back-to-back games only once in his career, to Brett Lawrie and Mike Trout in late July, 2015. Jansen has given up five, four, six, five, six, six, three and zero homers in his previous eight seasons.

No one has hit a grand slam off Jansen, and Owings became the fourth to hit a three-run homer. Arizona's Daniel Descalso hit a three-run homer off Jansen with two outs in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss in Dodger Stadium last July 4.

Kershaw lost his first start of this season, 1-0, when Panik homered off him in the fifth inning of the season opener in Dodger Stadium last Thursday. Kershaw gave up eight hits and two walks and struck out seven in six innings.

Kershaw has a long history against Arizona, most of it good. He is 14-8 with a 2.55 ERA against them in 26 starts while averaging 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He has been less effective at Chase Field, however, going 5-7 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 starts, the most losses in any visiting park. Kershaw has lost as many as four games in only two other venues, AT&T Park (12-4) and Coors Field (9-4).


He was 2-0 in two starts against the Diamondbacks in the 2017 regular season, giving up one run and six hits in 15 1/3 innings. Both games were at Dodger Stadium, where he also beat the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NLCS.

Godley, who stepped into a starting role when Shelby Miller went down early with an elbow injury last season, was 8-9 with a 3.37 ERA in 26 appearances, 25 stats. He struck out 165 batters in 155 innings by using a four-pitch mix that included a curve ball that he can get into the high-80 mph range.

Godley was 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers last season after pitching primarily in relief against them in parts of the previous two seasons.

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