Closer escapes bases-loaded jam with game-ending double play in Braves' win
ATLANTA -- Craig Kimbrel does not want to make a habit out of creating bases-loaded threats. But after escaping one that concluded Wednesday night's 3-2 win over the Dodgers at Turner Field, the Braves' closer was reintroduced to the rush of escaping one.
When he got Matt Kemp to ground into a game-ending double play, Kimbrel pumped his right arm twice, embraced catcher Evan Gattis and displayed a bright smile that was still visible more than 30 minutes after the game concluded.
"I don't like to get that excited," Kimbrel said. "It's not a situation I wanted to put our team in, but I was happy we were able to work out of it."
Before notching just their third win in their past 14 games, the Braves had to sweat through this threat that began with Andre Ethier drawing a leadoff walk. Dee Gordon followed with a bunt single to put two on and none out for Yasiel Puig. Instead of playing the hero role, Puig concluded what was just the second four-strikeout game of his career.
With Puig out of the picture, Kimbrel then allowed Adrian Gonzalez to hit an opposite-field sinking liner that Justin Upton aggressively short-hopped in left field. Instead of throwing to third base to retire Ethier, who had retreated seemingly thinking the ball had been caught, Upton threw to second.
"I felt like I had to [attack the ball] in that situation," Upton said. "It worked out for us. I didn't make the throw to the right bag, but it kept the game tied, which was important for us."
Kimbrel, who had blown just four of his previous 38 save opportunities, then fell behind Kemp with a 2-0 count before getting the veteran outfielder to hit a grounder to second baseman Phil Gosselin, who flipped to Andrelton Simmons to begin the game-ending double play.
"It's a situation you never want to get yourself into," Kimbrel said. "Any time you have to rely on a double-play ball to get out of an inning to end a game, you're not in a good spot. Hopefully, next time I can go one, two, three and make it a lot more easy and a lot less stressful."
Asked what his reaction was when the double play was turned, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, "You would have thought we won Game 7."