Kimbrel (3 Ks) impressive in first save opportunity

Newson November 19th, 2010No Comments

NEW YORK – After deciding to rest closer Billy Wagner for one day before the Phillies series, Braves manager Bobby Cox turned to Craig Kimbrel to pitch the ninth inning Sunday with a 6-3 lead. It was the first save situation for the hard-throwing rookie, and he responded splendidly, striking out three of four batters faced. “Top of the ninth, they called down [to the bullpen] and said, ‘You’ve got it,’” Kimbrel said. “Just like that, I was ready. It was very cool.” But he said he was surprised and a bit nervous after the call. Kimbrel had no idea Wagner would not be pitching (Wagner converted saves Friday and Saturday).

“That was exciting,” said Kimbrel, a 22-year-old Alabama native who could be a candidate for the closer job in 2011. “My heart was racing.” Told that he didn’t look nervous on the mound, he said, “Well, I was on the inside. At least I didn’t show it on the outside.”

He struck out Carlos Beltran looking for the first out. Next up was David Wright, who struck out swinging. Ike Davis followed with a grounder that Kimbrel tried to field, the deflection allowing a base hit. Then he struck out Chris Carter to end the game. “Yeah, Kim [Kimbrel] had a good day, I’d say,” Cox said, smiling.

Kimbrel is 3-0 with a 0.63 ERA in 16 appearances, and has 29 strikeouts with 11 walks in 14-1/3 innings.

8:21 pm September 19, 2010, by David O’Brien

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