Craig Kimbrel had been struggling mightily during the Boston Red Sox’s playoff run, but he recorded his first scoreless outing of October during the Red Sox’s American League pennant-clinching win Thursday against the Houston Astros.
And he has a former Red Sox reliever to thank for the turnaround.
Following Boston’s 4-1 win in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series, Kimbrel told reporters that Eric Gagne, who pitched for the Red Sox in 2007 and is a good friend of manager Alex Cora, noticed the Sox closer was tipping his pitches during a rocky outing in Game 4, and he immediately texted Boston’s skipper, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.
Cora agreed and told Gagne to text Kimbrel and pitching coach Dana LeVangie about what he saw. The two seemed to rectify the pitch-tipping issues that were plaguing the closer, as Kimbrel worked around a one-out walk to pitch a scoreless ninth inning Thursday, striking out Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez to send the Sox to their first World Series since 2013.
“We knew he was tipping his pitches yesterday and that he was gonna be fine,” Cora said, via Cotillo. “We saw his hands today. Yesterday they were up, today they were down. He was tipping his pitches for two weeks.”
The All-Star closer apologized to New Englanders for all the postseason heart attacks after the win, but with Gagne’s help, it looks like Red Sox Nation can put the cardiac medication back in the medicine cabinet.
Perhaps they should send Gagne a ring if they are able to beat either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Milwaukee Brewers in the World Serie. He’s earned it.