Craig Kimbrel just lowered his ERA to 0.94

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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.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.