Craig Kimbrel’s March to 400 saves came to a satisfying conclusion on Friday night, as he closed out the Phillies’ 6-4 win over the vaunted Atlanta Braves. Kimbrel becomes only the eighth player in major league history to reach the mark, with his 400th save coming only a few weeks after Kenley Jansen recorded his own.
The Phillies jumped out to an early lead when Nick Castellanos smoked a two-run triple off the right field wall against Braves starter Jared Shuster. The Braves scratched across a run in the bottom of the fourth, before a two-run bomb from Michael Harris II put the Braves on top 3-2 in the fifth.
The Phillies were able to storm back in the next frame, loading the bases on three walks. Brandon Marsh came to the plate with two outs, and laced a two-run single through the left side of the infield to give the Phils a 4-3 advantage. They were back at it in the top of the seventh, with Trea Turner scoring Bryson Stott with a double, and Bryce Harper driving in another with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3 Phils. The Braves added one more in the eighth on a Marcell Ozuna dinger, but the stage was set for Kimbrel’s 400th save in the bottom of the ninth.
The Braves legend took the mound with a two run lead, and induced fly balls from Ozzie Albies and Orlando Arcia for the first two outs. Being squeezed by erratic home plate umpire Nate Tomlinson, Kimbrel walked Harris to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuña battled to a 3-2 count to put the runner in motion, but ultimately rolled one over to Josh Harrison at third for the final out of the contest.
While the story of the game is Kimbrel’s 400th save, and for good reason, there were multiple positive signs for the Phillies. Taijuan Walker put together another quality start, looking more like the marquee hurler the Phillies hoped they were signing this past winter. The entire offense had a great night, highlighted by Bryson Stott’s two-hit, two-walk effort atop the lineup.
This team is still 24-27 on the season, and on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. It’s been a disappointing start to their National League pennant defense, but hopefully a few more wins like this against elite competition will get them back on track.