Usually when Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel enters, it’s automatic. The game is over. The fat lady sings.
That wasn’t the case today.
With the Braves leading the Colorado Rockies 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning on Wednesday at Coors Field, Kimbrel entered the game in hopes of securing a three-game road series sweep of the second-best team in Major League Baseball — Atlanta is the top team, one game ahead of the Rockies. He was also looking to continue his streak of 18 consecutive saves, including eight straight this year, in relief of starting pitcher Tim Hudson, who was vying for the 200th win of his career.
Unfortunately, Kimbrel allowed three hits including a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler that tied the game, blowing his first save since Aug. 31, 2012. The three hits were as many as he had allowed in his first nine appearances combined, while the two runs were the first runs he has allowed this season.
It’s common knowledge that every closer has a bad outing here and there — heck, guys like Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde make every appearance an adventure — so it’s only fair to let Kimbrel’s less-than-stellar ninth inning slide.
What might be of some concern to Braves Country, however, is the fact that Kimbrel’s velocity has been down at times throughout the first month of the season. Obviously it hasn’t hurt his performance, but it’s still something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Or maybe I’m just putting too much thought into one blown save. It’s altogether likely that Kimbrel will get another opportunity very soon, blow away three hitters in a row and earn his ninth save of the season.