Craig Kimbrel hadn’t taken the mound for the Boston Red Sox in quite some time, and he received a rude awakening in his return to the hill.
After the Red Sox mounted a ninth-inning comeback to tie Tuesday’s series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, Kimbrel, who hadn’t pitched since April 18, came on to pitch in the 10th inning. Boston’s closer started off the frame strong with a strikeout, but Curtis Granderson granted Kimbrel his first loss of the season with a walk-off home run to give Toronto a 4-3 win.
Following Boston’s third consecutive loss, manager Alex Cora explained the logic behind having Kimbrel appear in the 10th in a tie ballgame.
“I would have hated for him to come in with traffic in that (ninth) inning, because that was a thought,” Cora said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “I was like, ‘No, no. Here we’ll bring him in. He’ll give us a chance.’ You know, 2-0 fastball and he (Granderson) didn’t miss it.”
It’s tough to argue with Cora’s decision. Aside from needing work, the hard-throwing righty only had allowed two hits through his first eight outings of the season. With that in mind, it was tough to imagine Kimbrel not getting the job done and extending the game.
Kimbrel walked off the mound at Rogers Centre in defeat Tuesday, but far more often this season, he’ll be pumping his fist after locking down a save. In short, the Red Sox have no reason to worry about their closer.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Blue Jays:
— Brock Holt tied the game in the ninth with an RBI single, which Eduardo Nunez also tried to score on but ultimately was cut down to end the inning. Although Mookie Betts was waiting in the wings to potentially knock in the go-ahead run, Cora isn’t upset about Nunez’s aggressive baserunning.
“Aggressive,” Cora said. “Two outs, the guy has to make the play. You have to challenge Granderson, you know. We’ve been challenging Granderson for more than five years. He made a perfect throw and threw him out.”
Cora continued: “It was very aggressive. But you take your chance. We didn’t score for eight innings and he (Holt) hit a line drive, he (Granderson) charged it and he made a good throw. You have to tip your cap to him.
“I’m ok with it.”
— Andrew Benintendi struck out four times for the first time in his big league career.
— Rick Porcello now has pitched into the seventh inning in three of his first five starts. The right-hander tossed seven strong frames Tuesday, allowing three runs on three hits while striking out nine.
— Holt (3-for-4 with a double) and Hanley Ramirez (3-for-4, three singles) accounted for two-thirds of Boston’s hits in the game.