Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Ten Game Perfecto

(photo by CBS Sports)

When 27 batters are retired in a row by a single pitcher, it's usually the stuff of major headlines.  For Kenley Jansen, it'll be barely a footnote in baseball history.  What many don't realize is that what Jansen accomplished might actually be more impressive than a perfect game since most of the time he's attempting to get the most difficult outs of a game, over and over again.

In that fateful ninth inning, the pressure is on.  The squeeze of the ball is a little tighter.  The crowd is louder and often on their feet.  The hitters are concentrating a bit more.  It's a last chance for everybody.  All parties are bearing down and alert.  It's all on the line.  Much like the 8th and ninth inning of a no-hitter.  For Kenley Jansen, that's the pressure he faces almost every time he toes the rubber.

Jansen ran into those pressure situations over and over again, from July 23rd until August 8th and he came through.

July 23rd, Toronto (1)
Coming off consecutive saves in Washington, Kenley Jansen again recorded a save, but this one wasn't even close to being at his best.   In fact, it was his worst outing in some time. After retiring the first hitter, he gave up a ground rule double to Adam Lind.  A rare base on ball was enduced and after retiring a hitter on a pop up, a run scored on a base hit.  Jansen got Brent Lawrie to fly out to the warning track as we all breathed a collective sigh of relief to earn the save.  It was in this unimpressive outing that Kenley Jansen retired the first of 27 consecutive outs in this amazing streak.  A 10-9 Dodger victory.

July 24th, Toronto (2,3,4)
It was the top of the 10th inning and Jansen was asked to warm up for the potential save as the Dodgers broke a 3-3 tie with a 2-run homer by Mark Ellis.  By the time Jansen was handed the ball in the bottom of the inning, the lead was 8-3.  No longer a save situation, it didn't matter.  Kenley retired Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind in order, closing out the game striking out Lind swinging.

July 26th, Cincinnati at Los Angeles (5,6,7)
Jansen is called upon to preserve Clayton Kershaw's 2-1 lead, entering the 9th for the save.  He retires the heart of the Reds order,  Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce for his 13th save of the year.  Phillips and Bruce go down on strikes.

July 27th, Cincinnati at Los Angeles (8,9,10)
For the second night in a row, the Dodger closer is called upon to finish off the Reds.  Handed a 4-1 lead to preserve, this time it's the top of the order.  Shin-Soo Chu, Bruce Heisey and Votto are retired in order on seven pitches.

July 28th, Cincinnati at Los Angeles (11,12,13)
It was a pitchers duel from the get go.  No score in the ninth. A masterpiece pitched by Cingrani and Capuano.  Jansen does his job retiring the heart of the order again of Votto, Phillips and Bruce.  There no decision for Jansen as the Dodgers don't score until the 11th inning when Yasiel Puig hits the first walk off homer of his career.

July 30th, New York Yankees at Los Angeles (14,15,16)
Jansen enters the game in the 9th inning of a 2-2 game to face the number 3,4 and 5 hitters of the Yankee lineup.  He slams the door by striking out Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano and then getting Lyle Overbay to sky out to right field.  The Dodgers score in the bottom of the ninth and Jansen records his 4th win of the year.

(photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

August 1st, Chicago (17, 18, 19)
Kenley is really hitting his stride at Wrigley.  He strikes out the side.  Starling Castro, Cody Ransom and Darwin Barney, the last two looking at cutters that are about as nasty as any pitch ever thrown.  Its a 6-4 Dodger win and Jansen's 15th save of the year.

August 3rd, Chicago (20, 21, 22)
With a 3-0 Dodger lead to preserve, Jansen is the 4th reliever of the night sent in to finish off shutting out the Cubs.  He strikes out Castro and Ransom again, with Nate Shierholtz flying out in between.  Save number 16.

August 4th, Chicago (23, 24, 25)
Called on to save another 1-0 game, Jansen doesn't disappoint as he dominates again by striking out the side.  Logan Watkins, Starling Castro and Wellington Castillo are no match for the cutter again.  This was about as dominating as Jansen has ever been in his career.  He now has 17 saves in 20 attempts for the season.

August 8th, St. Louis (26, 27)
After a three game respite, Jansen is called upon to finish out a 5-1 Dodger victory.  He faces 3 through 5 in the lineup and retires his 26th batter in a row by striking out Allen Craig swinging.  Matt Holliday follows and he works the count full before fouling off a couple of pitches.  Jansen strikes him out on a 93 MPH fastball to retire his 27th hitter in a row, the equivalent of a perfect game.  David Freese, the next hitter, breaks the string by singling to center on a 2-2 count.  The game ends as Jansen fields a Jon Jay nubber and tags him out unassisted.

It was an impressive string, and it'll go un-noticed in the annals of baseball history.  In the course of recording 27 consecutive outs, Jansen recorded 5 saves and earned one win.  He struck out 15 batters and pitched with the game on the line in a one-run game or tie game to 14 of the 27 batters he faced.  Even when the string was broken tonight with two outs in the ninth, Jansen was dominating, and he came within an eyelash of striking out the side and continuing the streak for another day.

One thing that will be certain though.  Almost no one will notice Jansen's remarkable achievement.  The MLB network will barely acknowledge it, and no headlines will address the feat.  It was simply another few outs over a ten game span.  What a shame.  We Dodger fans know what we have though.  A lights out closer that may be the best in the game right now.


1 comment:

  1. Good article and you scooped True Blue LA on the perfect game aspect.

    Kenley is in a groove. I hope he doesn't get overworked. As you say a more difficult perfect games as there are no easy innings.