Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel took his third blown save, matching his total from 2012, and his first loss after giving up back-to-back homers to Devin Mesoraco and Shin-Soo Choo in the Reds’ 5-4 win over the Braves on Tuesday.
They were the second and third homers surrendered by Kimbrel in 14 1/3 innings this year. He’s allowed just as many homers this year as he did in 77 innings in 2011 and in 62 2/3 innings last year. He’s currently 10-for-13 saving games this year after going 42-for-45 last season.
Kimbrel also proved surprisingly vulnerable this spring, but he started the regular season with 8 2/3 scoreless innings before taking his first blown save on April 24. He’s allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings since that date.
It’s not like Kimbrel has been all bad, what with his 21/3 K/BB ratio to date. His velocity has held steady — he’s still throwing 95-98 mph — but he’s never been as comfortable with his breaking ball this year as he was in 2012. Both homers tonight came on 96-mph fastballs low in the zone. Mesoraco’s barely got over the wall in center.
Choo’s walkoff homer was his second solo shot of the game. He has seven homers in 126 at-bats this year after hitting 16 in 598 at-bats for Cleveland last season.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.