BOSTON -- Craig Kimbrel reverted back to the overpowering closer he's been for most of his career on Wednesday night, and it was a sight to see for the Fenway faithful.The righty finished his first home save for the Red Sox with utter domination in the ninth inning of a
BOSTON -- Craig Kimbrel reverted back to the overpowering closer he's been for most of his career on Wednesday night, and it was a sight to see for the Fenway faithful.
The righty finished his first home save for the Red Sox with utter domination in the ninth inning of a 4-2 win over the Orioles, retiring all three batters he faced on strikeouts and doing so with just 14 pitches.
For Kimbrel, this was a much better taste than he was left with on Monday, when he took the loss in Boston's home opener after giving up a mammoth, tiebreaking three-run homer off the bat of Chris Davis.
This time, Kimbrel finished his outing by striking out Davis swinging.
"I thought tonight he was much more in his delivery," said Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis. "I think the other day, truthfully, he's human. He's an elite closer, one of the best, if not the best in the game. First time in Fenway with the Red Sox, maybe he was overthrowing a little. He kind of got out of his delivery, and that was the product of the two walks. Today, we saw him in his normal posture throughout his delivery."
Kimbrel's only regret was that he had to wait more than 48 hours to get back out there. The Red Sox didn't have a save situation in Tuesday's loss.
"It was great," Kimbrel told Red Sox radio broadcasters Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett in a postgame interview. "The fans were into it, which gets me into it and helped me do my job tonight."
It turns out there was a slight mechanical flaw that led to Monday's mishap.
"He was a little side to side in his delivery," Willis said of Kimbrel. "Because of that, his arm slot dipped down a little bit. It was something he actually realized looking at video. I had talked to [director of pitching analysis] Brian Bannister as well about it. I texted Banny, 'Hey, what did you see?' It was something we were able to identify right away. The fortunate thing was he felt it. Sometimes little things aren't easy to fix, but he was able to do it."
The Red Sox expect many more ninth innings like the one they enjoyed on Wednesday, which is why president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski traded four prospects for the power righty.
"He's like so many great closers, where, if a day doesn't go well, he has a short memory," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He wants to get back to it. Fortunately, we were able to provide a lead here in the ninth, and he did a great job."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com.