Mark this date down in Los Angeles Dodgers history: April 17, 2012.
It may turn out to be a significant date, much like May 23, 2002 (Shawn Green’s four home runs for the Dodgers against the Milwaukee Brewers), Oct. 15, 1988 (Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series) and Sept. 28, 1988 (Orel Hershisher’s consecutive scoreless innings record).
April 17, 2012, might soon become known in Dodgers lore as “The Night of Game Over: Part II.”
Every Dodgers fan knows who and what is behind “Game Over.” The almost-unhittable closer, Eric Gagne, became known for his “Game Over” slogan during his mind-boggling run of 84-straight successful saves over three seasons. That’s a record, much like Hershisher’s, that may never be equaled.
On April 17, the “Game Over: Part II” closer watch may have very well begun in Milwaukee for the Dodgers. Closer Javy Guerra blew his first save of the season after the Dodgers had clawed their way back against the Brewers and had taken a 4-3 lead. Guerra allowed two runs and the Dodgers lost the game to the Brewers 5-4.
Now, patiently waiting in the closer wings is strikeout machine Kenley Jansen.
Is it fair to put the heat on Guerra after he botched his first save opportunity after five-straight successful outings? Probably not; but is it fair that oxygen thieves like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan keep rearing their ugly heads in entertainment news worldwide?
What bears repeating is the fact that Guerra is really the Dodgers’ closer by attrition. When Takashi Saito left the Dodgers in 2009, they were a team looking for a closer. Guerra did just enough to get the closer’s job last season, but it was hardly a situation where he was lights-out and ended any debate.
Guerra’s career minor league numbers, before he became the closer in 2011, don’t exactly make you stop and say “Wow!” Guerra won 27 minor league games and lost 26, with a 4.30 ERA. Over his 428 career minor league innings, Guerra also gave up 425 hits and allowed opposing batters to hit .259 against him.
Those are pretty far from “Game Over” type numbers, to say the least.
Meanwhile, all Jansen has done over his minor league career, and thus far in the big leagues, is strike out hitters at a record pace. Remember, Jansen is a guy who didn’t start pitching until 2009!
Last season, Jansen set the major league record by averaging 16.10 strikeouts per nine innings. During his brief big-league career, Jansen has struck out 150 hitters in just 88 innings. Further proof that Jansen’s stuff is legit is the fact he struck out 110 hitters over 64 career minor league innings.
You won’t hear it from Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly. You won’t hear it from General Manager Ned Colletti. You also won’t hear it from magnetic owner Magic Johnson.
However, you heard it here on Through The Fence Baseball: “The Kenley Jansen Game Over: Part II Watch” has begun in Los Angeles.