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.
The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.
The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.
After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.
Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.
Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.