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Craig Kimbrel, John Smoltz Only Atlanta Braves with Three 30-Save Seasons

July 29th, 2013 at 8:38 AM
By Cody Fields

With Saturday's save, Craig Kimbrel joined Atlanta Braves legend John Smoltz as the only closers in Braves history with three 30-save seasons.

Kimbrel, while recognizing the enormity of that feat, was focused more on his team's performance than his own.

"Like I say every Spring Training, I'm not going into a season saying I want to get a certain number of saves or a certain number of opportunities," Kimbrel said on braves.com. "When I get those opportunities, I want to take advantage of them. We could be a winning ballclub but not have many save opportunities, or we could not win a lot of ballgames and have a lot of close games."

The last time Kimbrel blew a save was May 7, and he's converted 20 consecutive save chances since then. He has 41 strikeouts in 26 innings since then.

Kimbrel's last earned run came July 4 in a loss to the Miami Marlins, but he's put up eight saves since then to take the National League lead with 31 saves.

When Smoltz was compiling 144 saves from 2002-04 while being converted to a closer after Tommy John surgery, Kimbrel was still in high school. Kimbrel remembers just how devastating a Smoltz appearance in late innings was.

"How many closers throw five pitches?" Kimbrel said of Smoltz. "It was almost unfair for him to be closing because obviously as a hitter, they eliminate pitches late in the game. The guy's got five pitches, they really can't do that."

When Kimbrel notched his 31st save Sunday night to secure a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, he lowered his ERA to 1.34, so he still has a shot to catch his 1.01 ERA from last year.

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Photo Credit: Casey AKO via Compfight cc

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Craig Kimbrel, John Smoltz, MLB

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