Congratulations are in order for Craig Kimbrel.
According to beat writer Chris Cox of MLB.com, the hard-throwing rookie closer recorded his 41st save of the season in Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over the Nationals, setting a major league rookie record.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz tallied 40 saves in 2010 as a rookie. Kazuhiro Sasaki, who had 37 saves in 2000 for the Mariners, held the mark before that.
Kimbrel, 23, boasts a sparkling 1.64 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 107/25 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings this season. He hasn’t allowed a run — earned or unearned — since July 11 and hasn’t blown a save since June 8.
Barring a September collapse, Kimbrel looks to be favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year award. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, owner of an .819 OPS, should also draw a good amount of votes.
So much for a Game 7 nail-biter. The Brewers and Dodgers were separated by just one run for the first five innings of Saturday’s NLCS finale, but a monster three-run shot from Yasiel Puig boosted the Dodgers to a four-run advantage in the top of the sixth.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Los Angeles. Brewers’ left-hander Josh Hader entered the game in the third inning and dominated the opposition for three scoreless innings, then was replaced on the mound by fellow lefty Xavier Cedeño. Cedeño promptly issued a leadoff single to Max Muncy to start the sixth and, just as promptly, was lifted for right-hander Jeremy Jeffress. After giving up another base hit to Justin Turner, it looked like Jeffress turned a corner. He induced a fly out from Manny Machado, then got Cody Bellinger to ground into a force out to shift the Dodgers’ runners to the corners with two outs.
That didn’t faze Puig, however. After appearing in 10 playoff games without a single home run, the outfielder blasted a 1-1 knuckle curve to center field to pad the Dodgers’ lead.
With three innings left to play, it’s still too soon to say whether or not the Dodgers just punched their ticket to the World Series. They lead the Brewers 5-1 in the seventh.