On the night of August 5, against the Royals at Citizens Bank Park, Phillies honorary closer Craig Kimberell scored his 19th goal.y Save the season.
That was more than three weeks ago. He didn’t have another until Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.
Of course, he hasn’t played at a save position since then either.
Hard to believe, Harry, but the Phillies have gone 18 straight games before that without a chance in the ninth inning to protect a lead of three runs or less. (Jeff Hoffman was charged with a tackle in the seventh inning of the second game of an August 8 doubleheader against the Nationals.)
There has been some local concern about Kimbrill’s relative lack of efficacy recently. He’s made six appearances since that last save. In those games he was 1-2 with a 4.50 earned run average. In 36 dominant outings prior to that his ERA was 1.50 with 49 strikeouts and 16 strikeouts allowed in 36 innings pitched.
On Sunday he gave up a one-out walk to left fielder Alec Burleson followed by Paul Goldschmidt’s double, but got Nolan Arenado to come up and hit Wilson Contreras to preserve the Phillies’ fourth shutout of the season.
It’s an accepted truism in baseball that shutout players have an extra boost of adrenaline when playing the game on the line, and often don’t perform as well without that pressure.
In response to a question in front of the player, manager Rob Thomson suggested that there could be a connection between Kimbrel’s lackluster numbers lately and the conditions in which he was appearing.
“I think there’s something in the fact that when close players go into a game just to get their work done (they can struggle),” the manager said. “I mean (Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera). He didn’t want to throw the ball if it wasn’t a save. Not because of his ego or anything like that. He just didn’t feel right. He was fine for nine or ten days without throwing.” The ball Then he comes and hits and it didn’t bother him.
“But most players need to see hitters, and sometimes hitters don’t really perform in situations where they don’t get saved. I think (Kimbrill) will be fine once he gets back in command.”
Kimbrel declined a pre-match interview request and was unavailable afterward.
By the way, he now has 11 seasons and at least 20 saves. Only Rivera (16), Trevor Hoffman (15), Lee Arthur Smith (13) and Billy Wagner (12) have more.
Phillies has been open for business since 1883. Or to put it another way, this is a franchise that has been operating within the city limits for about 840 months, give or take.
But not once in all this time have they hit as many home runs in one calendar month as they did in August 2023…and there are still three games left to play before September arrives.
When Kyle Schwarber reached off the first pitch thrown by Cardinals player Drew Rohm in the bottom of the first Sunday afternoon, it was the 49th.y Phillies long ball of the month, extending the record set Saturday night. The previous benchmark was 46 in September 2019.
Earlier in the season, when strength was a notably missing commodity from the line-up, Rob Thompson consistently expressed confidence that the situation would right itself. “And here in July, August and September, the ball tends to fly more than at any other time in the season,” the coach said on Sunday. “But I think only men are themselves now. That’s what they do.”
Lefthander Ranger Suarez (strained hamstring) is scheduled for direct hitting practice Monday, and if all goes well, he could return to the rotation during the road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego starting Friday.
When activated, according to Rob Thompson, the Phillies will continue in the 6-man rotation during the September 11 doubleheader against the Braves. “Once that’s done, we’ll have to figure something out,” the manager said, adding that it probably wouldn’t be a difficult decision. He said, “(Michael Lorenzen and Christopher Sanchez) are probably over the innings limit now. “Whether we carry them on their backs or someone goes to the playground… I don’t know what will happen, but we can do it.”
He also threw cold water on the possibility that Reese Hoskins, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during spring training, could complete his rehabilitation in time to play again during the regular season.
“It’s going to be tough because there’s been a slow-moving time frame here lately,” he admitted. “It’s going to be tough, but we’re still working on it. Some guys recover faster than others and it was kind of slow. There were a few times his knee was bothering him, so we kind of slowed things down. Then he feels good and we start to boost him up.”