Kenley Jansen blew his second-consecutive save against the Cardinals, and there appeared to be some gamesmanship from Willson Contreras.
St. Louis scored three runs in the ninth inning and prevented a walk-off attempt from the Red Sox to beat Boston, 4-3, at Fenway Park. Controversy arose when Jansen was dealt multiple pitch-clock violations. Manager Alex Cora told reporters after the game it was due to the closer getting set too early when Contreras didn’t have both feet in the batter’s box before eight seconds.
Jansen admitted postgame he focused on the batter’s eyes but vowed to be more vigilant and pay attention to the batter’s box, too. Contreras built a reputation in Major League Baseball as being a savvy player, and that was exactly his intent in the top of the ninth inning Saturday.
“Well, that’s what the pitch clock allows you to do,” Contreras told reporters, per Bally Sports video. “I know some closers, they like to get their rhythm, but my job as a batter is to not let him get into that rhythm. I was letting the clock get down to eight. It’s not my fault. It’s something in use for me in favor for the team, and it worked out today.”
Contreras added: “That’s nothing against them. I just felt like I had to take advantage of the clock a little bit better, especially in those kinds of situations. We were looking to create a rally and not hit a groundball. It was a struggle (Friday), throwing strikes. I was just getting inside a little bit. There’s nothing disrespectful.”
The eighth-year catcher praised Jansen for his milestone of 400 saves and hoped the Red Sox closer is voted into the Hall of Fame. But Contreras made it clear Saturday he’s willing to push the league’s new rules to its limits to help his team win.
It’s something for Cora and his staff to look out for in the future, especially if Contreras’ strategy ends up being a blueprint on how to combat Jansen.