Dodgers closer allows a run, gets redemption with strikeout of Trout
By Steve Bourbon
LOS ANGELES -- Even though Clayton Kershaw pitched eight innings and allowed just two hits, the ninth inning between the Dodgers and Angels was a tense affair at Dodger Stadium in Saturday's 3-1 victory.
For the second straight game, the usually reliable Kenley Jansen had worked himself into a jam, only to get himself out of it for the Dodgers' second straight win over their crosstown rivals. Jansen -- who has been batting a flu-like virus since the team was in New York last week -- was able to work through the heart of the Angels' lineup to earn his 19th save.
Jansen allowed a run for the third straight outing, raising his ERA since July 1 to 6.30. The closer opened the season with eight straight scoreless outings, but he has been in a bit of a rut lately.
One solution could be to throw his slider more, according to catcher Yasmani Grandal. Jansen's cutter sits between 93-95 mph, but going offspeed could show hitters a different look. Of his 26 pitches on Friday night, only two were sliders. It was three of 20 on Saturday, although Giavotella struck out on a slider in the dirt.
"I feel like him throwing the slider gets everyone off the fastball," Grandal said. "I've been trying to get him to throw that slider a little bit more."
Perhaps Jansen is listening to his batterymate. According to FanGraphs, Jansen is throwing the slider 9.9 percent of the time this season, which is nearly double what he had thrown it in recent years -- he hadn't thrown the slider more often than 5.9 percent of the time in each of the past three seasons.
"You've got to show something soft to get them off balance and get back to that fastball," Grandal said. "It doesn't even have to be for a strike, just something for them to see that is soft and in a location that they can't hit it."
Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.