The Craig Kimbrel Watch is on. Call me an alarmist if you want, but I got a bad feeling about this guy.
The Red Sox' new closer walked in the go-ahead run and a rare Clay Buchholz quality start spiraled down the drain. During the home opener. Kimbrel gave up a three-run home run to Orioles masher Chris Davis, which, on its own is not a big deal. Couple it with today’s meltdown, though, and it’s a big deal.
I understand Kimbrel inherited a mess because of Josh Rutledge’s throwing error, a Christian Vasquez passed ball and Koji Uehara’s poor outing, but it's his job to clean up such a mess. Today was embarrassing. A closer doesn't walk in a run . . . ever. As a matter of fact, prior to today Kimbrel never had.
What made everything worse was the way the Kimbrel looked blowing this thing. After striking out Edwin Encarnacion, he seemed to completely lose it. He went all Daniel Bard on us and couldn’t throw a strike. Then Russell Martin took him deep to shallow right-center for a bloop two-run single that, in the end, proved to be the difference.
Koji is 41 years old and has been used a lot by John Farrell recently, so I can excuse his struggles today. Kimbrel’s, I can't. Pitching in San Diego and the National League West is one thing. Pitching at Fenway Park and in the American League is a completely different animal. I hope Kimbrel has the makeup and control to thrive at Fenway, though I saw no evidence of that today.
Consider me alarmed.