PHOENIX — Kenley Jansen calls it a “slow start” to the season.
In two appearances, he’s lost a game and blown a three-run lead. No one expects that from one of the game’s most dominant closers.
Chris Owings hit a three-run homer off Jansen with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, and the Arizona Diamondbacks scored twice in the 15th to rally past the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 early Tuesday.
The first matchup between the teams since the NL champion Dodgers swept their Division Series last October became the longest game in Chase Field history at 5 hours, 46 minutes.
“We’re down to barely nothing,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said, “and these guys found a way to win the game. It’s a special night.”
Or, more accurately, a special morning.
Chase Utley‘s RBI single shortly after midnight put the Dodgers up 7-6 in the 15th, but Nick Ahmed‘s run-scoring double tied it in the bottom of the inning and pinch-hitter Jeff Mathis, the last position player on the Arizona bench, singled home Ahmed with the game-winner.
Both teams used all their available relievers. Mathis was going to pitch if the game had remained tied.
Jansen blew one save in 42 opportunities last season, earning his second consecutive Trevor Hoffman NL reliever of the year award. But this season has not started well. The Dodgers’ closer gave up a home run to Joe Panik in a 1-0 loss to San Francisco in his first outing last Friday, then squandered a three-run lead in his second on Monday night.
“I definitely know I’m fighting with some stuff,” he said, explaining the timing of his delivery was a problem.
Both Jansen and manager Dave Roberts said the All-Star closer is healthy.
“I know that he’s got pinpoint command, doesn’t walk guys,” Roberts said. “And I know there were some close calls tonight that didn’t go his way. But regardless, Kenley still has the ability to throw strikes when he needs to. Just the pitch to Owings, it was a cutter that was down and in his nitro zone.”
The pitch was recorded at 89 mph. Last season, Jansen averaged 93 mph on his cutters, which is the pitch he has mostly relied on.
“No, it’s not mechanic,” Jansen said. “He just got me. Who cares? Who cares? It’s one game.”
With the Dodgers up 6-3, Jansen got the first two batters to ground out but walked Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, both on 3-2 counts, to bring up Owings, who hit the first pitch he saw into the left field seats.
“That pitch was right where I was kind of looking,” Owings said. “Definitely got us back in the game. From there, the rest is history.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Dodgers had entered Monday’s game with a 364-0 record when entering the ninth inning with a three-run lead over the past eight seasons.
Owings became just the fourth player to hit a three-run homer or better (grand slam) against Jansen, who was touched up a bit in the World Series last year, too. The right-hander gave up two homers, took a loss and blew one of his three save chances against the Houston Astros.
“Listen, those guys have bats,” Jansen said. “They compete, too. Nobody wants to get beat. Nobody wants to blow saves. Nobody wants to lose games, but the situation of the game, it happens. What can I do? I’ve just got to bounce back tomorrow and help the Dodgers win.”
Yasiel Puig made two fine defensive plays for the Dodgers in the 14th, catching Goldschmidt’s drive at the right-field fence and then throwing out Ketel Marte trying to advance to second on a deep flyout by Pollock.
Yasmani Grandal reached base in his first five plate appearances for the Dodgers, including a two-run homer in the first inning, but bounced out to second with runners on first and third to end the 10th.
Marte became the seventh Diamondbacks player to triple twice in a regular-season game. He also did it in last year’s wild-card victory over Colorado.
Diamondbacks: Lovullo said OF Steven Souza Jr. (strained right pectoral muscle) threw from 90 feet and swung the bat in the cage. … 3B Jake Lamb was having his shoulder evaluated after some discomfort following a diving grab for a line drive, and a headfirst slide to score the tying run in the 15th.
LHP Clayton Kershaw, coming off a 1-0 loss to San Francisco in the season opener, takes the mound for the Dodgers and RHP Zack Godley makes his season debut for Arizona on Tuesday night in the second game of the three-game series.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
New York Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu on verge of winning AL batting title
NEW YORK — DJ LeMahieu is on the verge of a first in more than a century of Major League Baseball: the first player to win undisputed batting titles in both the American and National Leagues.
Luke Voit is about to become a more common name atop the leaderboards but part of an illustrious list, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Alex Rodriguez as New York Yankees to top the majors in home runs.
“I’ve always admired the Babe,” Voit said after the Yankees woke up from their latest slump to beat the Miami Marlins 11-4 on Saturday and kept their hold on the AL’s No. 5 postseason seed going into the final day. “It’s just awesome company. That guy hit 700 home runs (714 to be exact). That means I got to start hitting like 150 a year to catch up to him. So that’s never going to happen.”
LeMahieu had his fourth four-hit game and three RBIs while raising his average to .359. He passed Washington’s Juan Soto (.346) for the big league lead and opened a large margin over defending AL batting champion Tim Anderson of the White Sox, second in the AL at .337.
“This game’s been around for a long time, and I think anyone who’s watched knows just how special a player DJ LeMahieu’s been for us in these two years,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
LeMahieu won the 2016 NL batting title with a .348 average for Colorado. Ed Delahanty hit .410 for the Philadelphia Phillies to win the NL championship in 1899; he is credited by some researchers with the 1902 AL championship at .376, while others accept Nap Lajoie as winning that title at .378 despite lacking the plate appearances required in more modern times.
“Guys don’t win batting titles in both leagues, because you win it in one league, they probably keep you,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, the 1984 AL batting champion with the Yankees. “It’s a different game nowadays.”
A 32-year-old infielder in his second season with the Yankees, LeMahieu will become New York’s first batting champion since Bernie Williams in 1998.
Voit hit a three-run drive against Nick Vincent in a seven-run sixth for a 10-3 lead. He has made 38 consecutive starts, including 19 straight at first base, despite an injured foot.
“I’ve been trying to transform myself into a better power hitter and this year was another steppingstone for me,” Voit said. “I’ve always been a guy, high school, college, minors. I play through stuff. I’m a grinder. I want to be out there. I want to help a team, especially when we were hurting earlier in the year and I had to do whatever it took to be out there. So I was making sure I was getting plenty of treatment from all of our trainers and trying to stay on top of it so I could play through it and not be like killing me.”
Yankees rookie Deivi Garcia (3-2) allowed four runs and seven hits in 6⅔ innings with seven strikeouts and a walk. Boone has not announced whether Garcia or left-hander J.A. Happ will follow Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka as his playoff starters.
Preparing for a first-round playoff series on the road, likely at Cleveland or Tampa Bay, the Yankees (33-26) are trying to hold off third-place Toronto (32-27) and keep the No. 5 seed. New York’s season has flowed and drifted like the tide: a 16-6 start, following by a 5-15 slide, a 10-game winning streak and five losses in a six-game span coming in.
Wade’s homer off the second deck in right ended the Yankees’ first five-game homerless streak since April 1-5, 2014. They have scored nearly half their runs via the long ball, 156 of 315, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“Any spark to get us going, especially with the last game coming up tomorrow and going to the playoffs,” Wade said after his third homer this season.
“I feel like we’re always one swing away,” Voit said. “We just need to get that one to get us going.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Los Angeles’ Angels Mike Trout — ‘We gotta get to the playoffs’
The Los Angeles Angels were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention at Dodger Stadium on Friday night, which means that in nine full seasons in the major leagues, Mike Trout — considered by many the game’s greatest player for most, if not all, of those seasons — has made the playoffs only once.
“The biggest thing is getting to the playoffs,” Trout said Saturday, moments before the second of a three-game series against the cross-town Los Angeles Dodgers. “You guys all see it. I see it. It sucks being out of it. It’s time. We gotta get to the playoffs.”
Trout made the playoffs in 2014, when the Angels suffered a first-round sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. The 2020 season will now mark the fifth consecutive time his Angels have finished with a losing record, even though the offseason additions of manager Joe Maddon and third baseman Anthony Rendon had many believing the team might contend for a championship.
The Angels lost 25 of their first 37 games but have since won 14 of 21. The 60-game season didn’t provide enough time to make up ground.
“It could be a different story if we played a full season,” Trout said. “We got hot just a little late and fell short.”
The end result, a postseason absence even though Major League Baseball expanded the field to 16 teams, could lead to the firing of general manager Billy Eppler, who’s winding down his fifth season with the team and hasn’t been extended beyond 2020.
Eppler played a lead role in recruiting Shohei Ohtani, was a big reason Trout basically decided to spend his entire career with the Angels and took steps to rebuild the farm system, adding high-ceiling talent such as Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. But Eppler consistently came up short addressing the pitching staff; the manager he appointed in 2019, Brad Ausmus, lasted only one season. Decorated executive Dave Dombrowski has been rumored inside and outside of baseball to be his successor.
“Billy was a big reason why I signed back here,” Trout said. “We’ve built a friendship over the years. He’s put a lot of great teams together, and it just didn’t work out these last few years. The relationship and the friendship I’ve built with Billy — it obviously goes beyond baseball now. I’ve had a couple GMs come in here; I’ve never had the GM relationship I’ve had with him with anybody else.”
Trout, who became a father eight weeks ago, was batting .281/.390/.603 with 17 home runs in 241 plate appearances heading into Saturday’s game. He ranked seventh among major league position players in FanGraphs wins above replacement, and though he continually called this season “a grind,” Trout will undoubtedly finish within the top five in American League Most Valuable Player voting for the ninth consecutive year. But he’ll be 30 next year — and is still chasing October.
“I don’t like losing,” Trout said. “I wanna get to the playoffs. Every time we get into spring, our main goal is to get to the playoffs and bring a championship back to Anaheim. That’s just the mindset. When you’re that close and you come up short, it sucks.”
Chicago White Sox’s Jimmy Cordero suspended 3 games for hitting Willson Contreras
Chicago White Sox pitcher Jimmy Cordero was suspended three games for intentionally hitting Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, while manager Rick Renteria got a one-game ban, Major League Baseball announced Saturday.
Cordero hit Contreras during Friday’s blowout loss to the Cubs, several innings after Contreras threw his bat high into the air to celebrate a three-run homer.
“I knew it was coming,” Contreras said after the game. “I have no regrets, zero regrets. Once they hit me, I don’t think that’s the smartest thing to do. He got thrown out. And who knows if he’s going to get suspended?”
Renteria will serve his suspension during Saturday’s game against the Cubs. He and pitching coach Don Cooper also were fined an undisclosed amount.
It is unknown at this time if Cordero will appeal the suspension.
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