Craig Kimbrel earned the win Thursday against the White Sox. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was ready to redeem himself in Thursday afternoon’s game following suffering a loss against the White Sox on Monday night.
After throwing eight pitches to keep the Red Sox tied with the White Sox in the ninth inning, Kimbrel walked back into the Red Sox dugout and told manager John Farrell that he wanted to pitch the next inning.
“Our bullpen, we have been pitching a lot and I felt like throwing eight pitches I need to go back out and do a little bit more work,” said Kimbrel.
After the Red Sox left two men stranded on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kimbrel emerged from the dugout to pitch the top of the tenth. The move symbolized neither pitcher nor manager was thinking back to Monday’s outing. To make matters more interesting, Kimbrel entered the tenth having never pitched two complete innings in his career and also being 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in non-save situations this season.
The decision to have Kimbrel pitch the tenth inning seemed immediately regrettable. The 28-year-old right-hander walked the first batter he faced, gave up a single to the next hitter and then walked another batter to load the bases with nobody out.
“In a situation like that you have to get just take it one pitch at a time,” said Kimbrel.
With his back against the wall, Kimbrel was able to get the next batter to pop out before striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning without any damage.
“With the first pitch pop out that was pretty big, I think that put everybody in a better mindset. We were one pitch away from a double play,” said Kimbrel. “I was able to get two strikeouts and get out of the inning. This was a good game. It was a back and forth game, a hard fought game. There were a lot of situations where guys came up big and that is the reason we won the game.”
“A lot has been talked about when he comes in, in a non-save situation. Twice in a very rare relief appearance for him, two innings,” added Farrell. “After eight pitches in the first inning he was still in great shape with a lot in the tank. In a bases loaded situation nobody out, find a way to get a pop up and a couple of strikeouts. Just a helluva job on his part given the situation.”
Kimbrel’s teammates also took notice of his performance.
“It was bases loaded no out and he shut it down. That is how nasty he is,” said Xander Bogaerts, who hit the game winning single. “He’s pretty filthy, one of the best closer’s in the game and that is what we all expect from him. He’s human also, but more chances than not you’re going to get a performance like that.”
The Red Sox were able to plate a run in the bottom half of the 10th to give the Red Sox and Kimbrel a win.
“After losing the first three games against these guys, we knew coming into today that we needed to win, especially going on this road trip,” said Kimbrel. “We are definitely going to have a happy flight.”