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.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.