Matthew Pouliot

Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval hits three homers against Padres

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Pablo Sandoval won’t be having any three-homer games in the World Series this October, but he did accomplish the feat for the first time in the regular season Wednesday as the Giants crushed the Padres 13-5.

Sandoval had a modest 10 homers this season before taking three relievers deep tonight. He had a two-run shot off Brad Brach in the fifth, a solo homer off Brad Boxberger in the eighth and then a three-run bomb off Dale Thayer in the ninth.

The homers also gave him his first career six-RBI game.

Sandoval previously hit three homers in Game 1 of the World Series last year against the Tigers. He finished the postseason with six in 66 at-bats. This year, he had just two in 238 at-bats since the beginning of June.

Mariano Rivera notches ninth 40-save season

Mariano Rivera
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It just got a little more difficult to manufacture a save record not held by Mariano Rivera.

The 43-year-old picked up his 40th save Tuesday against the White Sox, reaching that plateau for the ninth time in his illustrious career. That ties Trevor Hoffman for the most of all-time. No one else has more than four:

9 – Hoffman, Rivera
4 – Dennis Eckersley, Jose Mesa,  Robb Nen, Francisco Rodriguez, John Wetteland
3 – Heath Bell, Armando Benitez, Francisco Cordero, Eric Gagne, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Nathan, Jeff Reardon, Jeff Shaw, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Jose Valverde

Earlier this year, Rivera passed Hoffman for the lead in 30-save seasons, 15-14. Next on that list is Lee Smith with 10 and Billy Wagner with nine. Among active pitchers, Joe Nathan has eight (including this year) and Jonathan Papelbon seven (not yet including this year).

Rivera and Gagne are also the only relievers with a pair of 50-save seasons.

Craig Kimbrel just lowered his ERA to 0.94

Craig Kimbrel
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It’s old hat now, but Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is once again threatening to post a sub-1.00 ERA. He’s at 0.94 after pitching a scoreless inning for his 44th save Tuesday against the Mets.

Kimbrel finished last year at 1.01.

There was actually some concern about Kimbrel after he got off to a rough start this spring and took a loss to the Dominican Republic while pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Struggling to find his breaking ball, he wasn’t quite his usual self at the beginning of the regular season, either; he blew three saves in the first five weeks, with his ERA peaking at 3.38 on May 7.

Of course, Kimbrel has allowed all of one run in the nearly four months since. He’s also converted 34 straight save chances.

Kimbrel’s 1.01 ERA last year was the 13th lowest all-time among pitchers to throw at least 50 innings. Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney actually set the record last season, coming in at 0.60 to beat out Dennis Eckersley’s 0.61 mark from 1990.

There’s no way Kimbrel is going to top that, but if he keeps putting up zeroes, he’ll likely end up in the 0.80-0.85 range.

That might not be the low mark of 2013, though. Pirates reliever Mark Melancon is at 0.88 at the moment. Both he and Kimbrel have allowed six earned runs, but Melancon tops him in innings 61 1/3 to 57 2/3.