Dodgers: Kenley Jansen decision backfires after Brett Phillips disaster play

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 24: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers the pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 24, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 24: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers the pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 24, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Kenley Jansen and the Dodgers let Game 4 of the 2020 World Series get away, and there may be no coming back from this.

In a year that has been so improbable, the incredibly predictable has happened for the Dodgers.

A topsy-turvy World Series game that, at its conclusion, would possibly seal this team’s ultimate fate. The ball in Kenley Jansen’s hand with an attempt to close out a tipping point victory. Two outs and two strikes on the least likely hero in the entire Tampa Bay Rays’ batting order, pinch-runner and ice cold offensive presence Brett Phillips.

And yet, somehow, though every Dodgers fan on earth envisioned disaster behind their closed eyelids for the entire 15-minute sequence of Jansen’s ninth, not one of us saw it ending exactly like this. Game 4 concluded with a play as sloppy as any in MLB history, as several unprepared Dodgers interacted with the baseball from start to finish. A cutter-hanging Jansen began it, a fumbling Chris Taylor extended it, and a lost-in-the-dirt Will Smith looked a guaranteed out in the face and swiped frantically at air, sans-baseball.

And in millions of simple, tiny steps, the Dodgers let a chance to take a 3-1 lead slip through everyone’s fingers, and it’s safe to second guess the whole lot of ’em.

https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1320219342211080193?s=20

Dave Roberts will find himself under the microscope after this one, a spot so familiar he might as well buy there instead of rent.

First, it was Julio Urias being pulled at 80 pitches midway through the fifth, leading to split-inning duty for Blake Treinen and a skittish sixth for the righty. Then it was Pedro Baez, yet again, allowing the go-ahead three-run homer by Brandon Lowe, then the equalizer the next inning by Kevin Kiermaier, after his offense had punched back.

And then, finally, it was Jansen again, after phenom Brusdar Graterol had recorded the final out of the eighth inning. It was Jansen again, who had recently been demoted to the lowest of leverage roles. It was Jansen again, who had allowed a Randy Arozarena homer the night prior, set to face Arozarena as the winning run.

Was this the worst Jansen outing we’ve ever seen? Probably not. But it felt inevitable, especially after Roberts’ tow-headed recent show of faith.

The bounces were nonsensical, and yet somehow entirely anticipated. It’s not that we could’ve predicted the sequence of events in the ninth. It’s that we could’ve predicted some form of torture, right on the precipice of taking control of this series.

Clayton Kershaw in a 2-2 Game 5. Just as the narrative intended. Of course.