The Dodgers got exactly what they wanted in relief of Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night, with Chris Hatcher and Kenley Jansen recording the final six outs to finish off Game 3 against the Mets.
Manager Don Mattingly had enough confidence in Hatcher and Jansen that therre was no temptation to send Kershaw back out to start the eighth inning with just 94 pitches on his odometer and three hits allowed to that point.
"No thought at all in the 8th. We had guys ready in the seventh," Mattingly said. "Him going on short rest, he was throwing the ball good. The ball was still coming out of his hand good, but at that point we knew that was going to be it for him."
With a pair of pinch-hitters, Hatcher ended up facing three left-handers, retiring the first two including one by strikeout, followed by a walk of Curtis Granderson.
That brought in Jansen, who
struck out David Wright on a foul tip walked David Wright in a prolonged battle, but then retired Daniel Murphy with the tying runs on base to end the inning. Jansen needed just 10 pitches to finish off the Mets in order in the ninth, including two strikeouts.
"Hatch came in and got two big outs for us," Mattingly said. "When we get to David, we think that's a spot for Kenley to come in there and obviously Kenley finishes it up in the ninth."
Jansen recorded the 11th save of four or more outs in Dodgers postseason history, and the first since Jonathan Broxton in Game 1 of the 2009 NLDS.
Since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 15, Hatcher put up a 1.31 ERA in 22 games, allowing only three solo home runs, with 26 strikeouts, six walks and a 32.5-percent strikeout rate. In the postseason, he has struck out four of his nine batters faced, with one walk.
That's one way to fortify the bridge to Jansen.
Hatcher and Jansen have combined for five scoreless innings without allowing a hit so far in the NLDS, with seven strikeouts and three walks. But they aren't alone.
In the 2014 NLDS, the six Dodgers relief pitchers used combined for six runs on 11 hits in 8⅓ innings, with three walks and seven strikeouts, and three home runs allowed.
Through four games of the 2015 NLDS, seven relievers (not counting starter Alex Wood) have combined to allow three runs on three hits in 9⅓ innings, with six walks and 14 strikeouts, with no home runs allowed.
So far, so good.