This photo of the light-standard shadow lying directly across the pitching mound will give you an idea of just what the Padres hitters had to deal with in the ninth inning against Kenley Jansen, who has become one of the best closers in the league even in games when the ballpark shadows don’t give him an added edge. In striking out all three Padres hitters, Will Venable, Jedd Gyorko and Tommy Medica, Jansen threw a total of 11 pitches, including a total of six to Gyorko and Medica.
It was Jansen’s 27th save of the season, two better than last year, and keep in mind he didn’t really even reclaim the closer’s role this year until mid-June, right around the time the team began it’s historic turnaround and march toward a division title. This guy has become a big-time closer, and if you’re going to go deep into the postseason, a big-time closer is one of those things you absolutely have to have.
On another Jansen-related note, while we were all standing around in the clubhouse this morning, our friend Kevin Baxter over at the Los Angeles Times happened to notice Kenley signing some baseballs with his left hand. He immediately asked Kenley if he always writes left-handed, Kenley told him he does EVERYTHING left-handed except throw a baseball, and then he proceeded to tell Kevin a great story of how he came to throw right-handed, which Kevin turned into a blog post on the Times web site that you can read here.
By the way, the Dodgers wound up not doing rookie-hazing day today, so I guess if they’re going to do it at all, they’ll have to do it on the way home from San Francisco Thursday night, which, if you read one of my earlier posts, kind of takes all the stuffing out of the whole idea. I can’t imagine them doing it during the playoffs.
Finally, let’s take another look at the race for National League playoff seeding:
The Cardinals and Brewers are the ESPN Sunday Night game tonight, so we won’t know for a while exactly how it all shakes out by day’s end. For the moment, though, the Dodgers remain 2 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves, who will host Milwaukee tomorrow while the Dodgers are off, ironing out the discrepancy between the two clubs in the number of games played. The Dodgers are one game ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. And the Dodgers are either one or two games behind the Cardinals depending upon the outcome of tonight’s game.
Remember, the Dodgers DO hold the tiebreaker against the Cardinals, so if St. Louis wins the Central — the Cardinals will lead the Pirates and Reds by either two or three after their game tonight — the Dodgers would need only to TIE them in order to gain homefield advantage in a potential Dodgers-Cardinals series.
In effect, though, the Dodgers are 3 1/2 behind the Braves because the Braves hold the tiebreaker over the Dodgers, meaning the Dodgers would have to finish a game AHEAD of the Braves to gain the N.L. top seed. That appears to be a long shot at this point. But let’s say, hypothetically, that the Braves go into the playoffs as the top seed but LOSE their division series to the wildcard winner. In that case, homefield advantage in the N.L. Championship Series falls to the winner of the other division series.
If you’ll pardon the personal aside … the last time I covered a Dodgers-Padres series at Petco, my daughter was still stationed at Naval Base San Diego, and after the getaway game, I always used to go have dinner with her before driving back to L.A. I miss those days. She’s at Pearl Harbor now, and the Dodgers don’t have any trips to Honolulu anytime soon. I also miss the days when she was growing up in Colorado, and I would spend time with her during every Dodgers-Rockies series. Time passes quickly, doesn’t it?
One other thing: if, like me, you watch a lot of games on MLB.tv, you are probably absolutely sick of that idiotic commercial in which the two baseball scouts are standing side by side holding video conference calls with their bosses about some pitcher they’re both looking at. The one scout is using an iPad, the other some other brand of tablet that is supposed to be superior to the iPad, and the scout using the iPad loses out on the player because his iPad doesn’t let him use multiple apps at the same time. Whoever came up with that ad should have consulted a consultant and learned how the whole scouting of amateur players actually WORKS, because it sure doesn’t work ANYTHING like it’s portrayed in that commercial.
And besides, I really love my iPad.
UPDATE TO THIS: There is an outstanding breakdown of this commercial on a blog called Cespedes Family Barbecue that I didn’t even know existed until Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness sent me this link. This is one of the funniest and most well-written critiques, done almost frame by frame, of a bad commercial I have ever read in my life, and it’s definitely worth your time to check it out.