DENVER — Kenley Jansen was not available to close for the Dodgers Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies. That ultimately cost his team in a 7-6 loss.
Four pitchers appeared in the ninth inning with the Dodgers trying to preserve a 6-4 lead. Adam Liberatore remained in the game after pitching the eighth and he allowed hits to the first two batters. Yimi Garcia walked the only two batters he faced. The second walk came with the bases loaded.
J.P. Howell‘s first pitch to Carlos Gonzalez bounced off Yasmani Grandal‘s glove and toward the backstop, allowing the tying run to score. Howell then walked Gonzalez intentionally to load the bases. Chris Hatcher allowed a sacrifice fly by Nolan Arenado with the infield drawn in, scoring D.J. LeMahieu to win the game.
Of the four pitchers the Dodgers used in the inning, only Hatcher recorded an out.
So where was Jansen?
Well, he was in the building. So why wasn’t he available?
“I don’t know who might want to talk about it,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, “but I’m not talking about it.”
Neither was Jansen. He dressed with his teammates, then told a team spokesperson that he would not speak to a pack of reporters surrounding his locker stall in the visitors’ clubhouse.
Jansen showed no outward signs of receiving medical treatment — nothing so small as a gauze pad or so large as a neck brace. To speculate about an injury wouldn’t just be unfair; there really was no place to begin. Jansen had pitched the ninth inning of the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader and recorded his fifth save of the season.
Finally, as the clock approached 1 a.m. Mountain Time and the team was scheduled to be leaving Coors Field, the team spokesperson relayed that Jansen wasn’t feeling well and was unavailable to pitch.
Of course, a person can “not feel well” for a variety of reasons. He’s had heart problems in the past, but the circumstances suggest that it was the pitcher himself — not the Dodgers’ medical personnel, who would have informed the manager’s decision — who made Jansen unavailable. He certainly had not been traded. There was no reason to believe that Jansen had been disciplined.
Jansen might not have felt well because of something as minor as a stomach bug or something as major as — well, who knows. By not addressing that reason head-on, Jansen left room for speculation that stretched the size of the Rocky Mountains.
Update (12:29 a.m.): ESPN broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe, who was at the game and in the clubhouse afterwards, tweeted this:
— Rick Sutcliffe (@Sut_ESPN) June 4, 2015