Craig Kimbrel

Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Craig Kimbrel is sick of giving up runs, but nails down save

John Tomase
October 15, 2018 - 1:10 am

It wasn't pretty and it wasn't exactly easy, but then again, none of Craig Kimbrel's saves have been either of those things this postseason.

Coming off an incredibly shaky outing in Yankee Stadium that saw him nearly blow a three-run lead before the Red Sox held on to win the clinching Game 4, Kimbrel returned to the mound against the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series and once again made things interesting.

After recording two quick outs in a 7-4 game, Kimbrel allowed a double to leadoff man George Springer and an RBI single to Jose Altuve before the dangerous Alex Bregman lifted a 98 mph fastball to the base of the left field scoreboard, where Andrew Benintendi corraled it to preserve the 7-5 victory and even the series at a game apiece.

"I'm tired of giving up runs, but it's good to get the win," Kimbrel said. "Go back out there hopefully in Game 3."

Unlike his last appearance, when he couldn't find the strike zone, this time Kimbrel had better command, particularly of his fastball. He popped up Evan Gattis and struck out Josh Reddick on three pitches before making things interesting. Bregman represented the tying run.

"I was just attacking him," Kimbrel said. "Obviously I didn't want him to hit it over the fence. Just attacking him and trying not to give him too many pitches. That last one I was able to get in on him and got him to pop it up."

Kimbrel has now allowed runs in all three of his postseason appearances, starting with an Aaron Judge solo homer in Game 1 of the ALDS and continuing through his near-meltdown in Game 4, when he allowed two runs before holding on for a 4-3 win.

"I think in the playoffs, you want to do everything right," Kimbrel said. "You have a checklist of things you need to do to win the game and hopefully you can check them all off and get a win. More times than not when you get a lot of those off the list, you're going to win. You can't play sloppy ball and expect to win. You want to clean ball and expect to win."