Kenley Jansen uses wrinkle to help smooth things over

Harry How

Jansen used a slider to strikeout Paul Goldschmidt to complete his sixth save on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES -- Kenley Jansen recorded the save on Saturday, complete with a strikeout of Paul Goldschmidt to complete the Dodgers' win over the Diamondbacks. But it was the way Jansen did it that stood out.

It wasn't quite the showdown with Miguel Cabrera of last week, with Jansen pumping in 98-99 mph fastballs on every pitch. But facing the National League's best hitter from 2013 was still a matchup of some renown. After throwing cutters of 92, 96 and 97 mph, Jansen struck out Goldschmidt - the tying run at the plate - on an 83-mph slider.

"I always have confidence in my offspeed stuff. I have to use it. I know when they're on my fastball, and that's what it was with Goldschmidt," Jansen said. "I sped him up with my fastball, and I had to find a way to slow him down."

The slider came one pitch after Goldschmidt fouled a 97-mph cutter straight back.

"Paul had a good swing on that 0-2. To see Kenley make that adjustment quickly and go to his breaking ball away like that was good," manager Don Mattingly said. "Kenley's been pretty confident. It's the one thing I've liked about this stretch, when it hasn't always been perfect for him, he's bounced back. His confidence is not getting down. You want your closer to have that short memory and turn the page and be able to feel like it will go his way."

Jansen has struggled so far in the early going, with two blown saves, four unintentional walks and a 4.50 ERA through a league-leading 12 appearances in 18 games. He has had one clean, 1-2-3 inning.

Part of it has been bad luck. One of the three balls put in play against Jansen on Saturday lowered his batting average on balls in play to a still-absurd .500 (10-for-20) this year. That has helped Jansen, who also has 18 strikeouts in his 10 innings, keep confident through this stretch.

That, and his general positive demeanor.

"Every time I go there it's a new beginning for me. You can't worry about what happened in the past. You just have to get better and learn from what's happened in the past," Jansen said. "In life you can't worry about what happened yesterday. You just have to focus on today, and how I can get better every day. That's how I think every day."

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