Kenley Jansen blown save wastes crazy ninth-inning comeback, Braves drop two to Seattle

I have to be honest. I’m pretty glad I didn’t get to watch this one. The Mariners pretty much dominated all day and led 6-2 going to the ninth, only for the Braves to come off the deck with five runs in the inning to take a 7-6 lead. And then Kenley Jansen gave up two homers in the bottom half of the frame to cancel out probably the best comeback of the year and give the Mariners an 8-7 win.

It looked for much of the game like this was going to be a standard-issue loss. Seattle scored a run in the first and three in the fourth off of Jake Odorizzi (continuing to play his way off the playoff roster, it seems) and then scored a run each off of Collin McHugh and Tyler Matzek in the fifth and sixth, respectively. That gave them a 6-1 lead after an Austin Riley solo homer in the fourth. Michael Harris followed with a solo homer of his own in the eighth to make it 6-2 going to the ninth.

So in the ninth, Seattle’s Diego Castillo came in to try to notch the Atlanta Save against Atlanta. He walked Riley and Matt Olson back-to-back to lead off the inning, but got William Contreras to ground out and Vaughn Grissom to strike out to seemingly turn onto Easy Street. Well, about that…Harris followed with his second straight home run to score three and suddenly make it a one-run game, 6-5.

The Mariners switched to right-hander Paul Sewald and the Braves switched to left-hander Eddie Rosario off the bench. Sewald put Eddie down 1-2, but Rosario lined a single to right to keep the Braves alive. And then Robbie Grossman stepped to the plate from the left side, which we were led to believe he was totally helpless from when we traded for him at the end of July. He hasn’t looked helpless left-handed to me, though, and he crushed an 0-1 pitch into the right-field stands to, amazingly, give Atlanta a 7-6 lead. Ronald Acuna was hit by a pitch and stole second base after that, but he was left there. That turned out to be a pretty big deal, unfortunately.

The Braves turned to Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth. I thought he’d looked good in his last two outings in Seattle on Friday and in Oakland earlier last week. Well, so much for that. With one out, he allowed a game-tying homer to Julio Rodriguez. With two outs, he allowed a game-winning bomb to Eugenio Suarez. Just like that, one of the best wins of the year turns into one of the worst losses. I remember Mac saying that losses where you comeback to tie or take the lead only to see your bullpen blow the game anyway just seem worse, and I doubt anybody would disagree tonight.

So the Braves are now down a game-and-a-half in the standings headed back down to San Francisco early this week. More importantly, the question of what to do with Jansen starts to seem a little more pressing. Personally, I would give the closer job to Raisel Iglesias at this point at least on a trial basis, but keep in mind that Jansen isn’t just going away. He’s going to pitch and he’s going to pitch high-leverage innings. I remember thinking about Will Smith last year at about this time that maybe he was actually where he needed to be to do the least damage. He wasn’t getting demoted to low-leverage, and maybe knowing he was the ninth-inning guy and would nearly always start with a clean slate was better than throwing him into the mix as a late-inning matchup guy. (And nothing that happened with him this year as more of a matchup guy dissuaded me from that thought, by the way.) I think it may very well be the same with Jansen…that if he’s gonna be used in high-leverage (and he is), just keep him as the guy who gets a clean slate to start the ninth. However, I think it’s probably worth it to switch it up and find out while we have a few weeks to play with here.

30 thoughts on “Kenley Jansen blown save wastes crazy ninth-inning comeback, Braves drop two to Seattle”

  1. The Smith / Jansen parallels are eerie

    Although I might have to take some of the blame for this one, as I fell asleep at 1-6, then woke up to find the score had improbably become 7-6, and then thought I might as well watch to the end

    I chose poorly

  2. Iglesias needs some save opportunities, definitely.

    It really sucks when a closer is slumping because that basically means that every bad game you have, it’s very possible the team loses. You could go 0–4 with 4 strikeouts at the plate, but no one’s going to say you lost the team the game.

  3. Gotta win 2 out of 3 in SF. Wright and Strider need to get it done. Morton has a tough matchup with Rodon.

    MH2 is having quite the September: 1.343 OPS after a .989 OPS in August.

  4. In our last 12 games Olson is hitting .073, with a .225 OBP and .146 SLG. The team has gone 8-4 despite him being a boat anchor. We need to fix this.

  5. I’ve been disappointed by Olson, as much as one can be by a 3 WAR player.

    Others have probably noticed that the Mets have been using Diaz in the 8th and Ottavino in the 9th from time to time, when the tougher hitters are up in the 8th.

  6. @7 yeah, nothing can be done, but imagine freeman’s batting line in the middle of our lineup….delightful

  7. With respect to 2022 Matt Olson, what you are seeing is the same Olson he has been throughout his career, except that he’s walking less this year. He’s a .250 hitter with really good power, an average defensive first baseman, and tends to clog up the base paths. He was the same player in Oakland. The only upgrade over Freddie Freeman may be his age.

  8. He doesn’t have to be an upgrade over Freeman. .250 with power on this team is fine. That’d be a huge upgrade over the last couple weeks output. Last year was his “career year” so far, and we paid up for it since it’s a good bet given his age. His rate stats this year compared to last are down a lot. If he finishes with an OPS that starts with a 7 then that’s a worry. I’m thinking he’s really pressing, might just need a mental break.

  9. @9 Olson was a 6-WAR (prorated to a full season) guy in 2019, bad in 2020, then 5+ WAR in 2021. He’s on track for a smidge over 3 WAR this year, which has to qualify as a down year / disappointing for a dude who is 28 years old playing for the first time on a top-tier offense in a good offensive park.

    The difference between Jansen and Diaz at closer could be the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the NL East… but the difference between Freeman (6.5 WAR) and Olson at 1B is substantially larger than the difference between 1st and 2nd place.

  10. I will not be able to take today’s game. Can someone please pinch-hit on the recap?

  11. I tuned into tonight’s game in time to see Matt Olson whiff on two nearly consecutive identical 90 mph pitches in the strike zone to end the 1st inning. Yeeeeesh is he in a funk. After he struck out he looked confused about how that happened. Me too dude, me too.

  12. Braves and Mets have played at a high level over the last few months. It wouldn’t be shocking if both struggled down the stretch and limped into the playoffs.

  13. For a flame throwing rookie Strider impresses the heck out of me. He clearly doesn’t have his best stuff tonight but he makes adjustments to stay in the game. He has done it all year.

  14. I know it was a scoop but Olson doesn’t do much to help the infielders out.

    Not that the third run will most likely matter anyway. The team seems flat after the kick in the stomach yesterday afternoon

  15. He’s battling but definitely didn’t have his plus stuff tonight. Though it doesn’t matter how we pitch if we can’t score.

  16. Hard to imagine how he didn’t see that Olson had stopped at 2nd. The play was literally right where he was facing. I’m going to use the excuse that Olson hadn’t been on base in front of him in like 20 games so he forgot he was out there.

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