Bizarro World: Craig Kimbrel blows a save, Andrelton Simmons commits a game-ending error.

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Well that’s something one doesn’t expect to see every day.

The Nationals sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the first game of today’s doubleheader against the Braves. Then Mike Minor settled down and didn’t allow another run through the sixth. The Braves scored runs in the sixth and seventh to bring it to 3-2.

In the top of the eighth inning Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer off Tyler Clippard. Braves up 4-3. An Ian Desmond error in the ninth gave Atlanta another run and a 5-3 lead. With Craig Kimbrel waiting to come in. Game over, right?

Wrong. Here’s what Kimbrel did:

  • Issued a walk to Adam LaRoche
  • Allowed an infield single to Wilson Ramos
  • Issued a walk to Anthony Rendon
  • Allowed a run-scoring groundout to Chad Tracy, making it 5-4
  • Induced a ground ball to short that went right through Andrelton Simmons’ wickets to allow the tying and winning runs to score.

Let me repeat: the shortstop who may be having the best defensive season in baseball history had one go right between the pipes. The closer who had never given up three runs in 225 major league appearances gave up three runs. And with that the game was lost.

Kimbrel was bound to blow a save eventually. Simmons is not going to make every play. But boy howdy, you’d not make a lot of money betting on that outcome happening very often. Heck, you’d make more money selling unicorn pelts.

Baseball.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.