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Bizarro World: Craig Kimbrel blows a save, Andrelton Simmons commits a game-ending error.

Sep 17, 2013, 4:30 PM EST

Unicorn

Well that’s something one doesn’t expect to see every day.

The Nationals sprinted out to a 3-0 lead in the first game of today’s doubleheader against the Braves. Then Mike Minor settled down and didn’t allow another run through the sixth. The Braves scored runs in the sixth and seventh to bring it to 3-2.

In the top of the eighth inning Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer off Tyler Clippard. Braves up 4-3. An Ian Desmond error in the ninth gave Atlanta another run and a 5-3 lead. With Craig Kimbrel waiting to come in. Game over, right?

Wrong. Here’s what Kimbrel did:

Let me repeat: the shortstop who may be having the best defensive season in baseball history had one go right between the pipes. The closer who had never given up three runs in 225 major league appearances gave up three runs. And with that the game was lost.

Kimbrel was bound to blow a save eventually. Simmons is not going to make every play. But boy howdy, you’d not make a lot of money betting on that outcome happening very often. Heck, you’d make more money selling unicorn pelts.

Baseball.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Is it too late for a 2011-style collapse?

    • johnnysoda - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Up by 9 with 12 to go? It would take the Braves basically losing out coupled with the Nationals winning out.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        2011 was unlikely as well. Historic even, and only obscured by the fact the Boston managed to one-up them (one-down them?) in the same season. Craig might explode if the Braves choke this one away.

      • frank433 - Sep 17, 2013 at 6:22 PM

        So, you’re saying there’s a chance!

  2. proudlycanadian - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    If you believe that story, I have a very rare unicorn pelt for sale.

  3. spudchukar - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    It’s September. Just the Braves being the Braves.

    • Glenn - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      Are you saying that the Braves are the biggest late season disappointing team in our lifetimes? I say yes. Has any other franchise frittered away more championship chances in the last 30 years? Some excellent teams with great pitching have little to show for where they were in September.

  4. NatsLady - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    I admit, I was driving to work–y’know, to the job I apparently don’t have– and I almost gave it up for lost, except I remembered Kimbrel gave up a HR recently and I didn’t completely lose hope…

    • misterj167 - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      He gave up a homer to Chase Headly, you could say that about a lot of people. Every pitcher blows saves, even the greatest of the great has blown saves in the most important of games: Dennis Eckersley, Mariano Rivera.

      What makes this galling is that he would have gotten out of it had not one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball made the worst kind of error a shortstop can make…

      It’s just one of those things that happens when one team is having everything go their way while the other team is struggling

      For the Braves, the upside is, with a magic number of 4 with 12 games left, yeah they’d pretty much have to lose every game while the Nats would have to win every game in order to lose the division. Even going 4-8 the rest of the way, they’d still win if the Nats won out. The question is, when will their hitting come alive again?

      For the Nats, the upside is that they’re finally playing like everyone expected them to play in spring. The problem is that they’re only doing it in the last month or so of the season: had they been just a little better the rest of the way, things might be different. They can still squeak into the playoffs (and I reiterate, if they manage to do that, it’s a disgrace), but they need a lot of help, as the Reds are playing the Astros and the Nats still have two series with +.500 teams remaining.

      Games played in April and May count every bit as much as games played in August and September. Play well the whole year and you won’t be having these issues. The Braves will survive this mistake, even after the upcoming sweep by the Nats, because they played well in April and in August and held form the rest of the way.

      • emdash01 - Sep 17, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        Even if Simmons had made the play, it’d still be tied. So they’d be looking at extras, I’d think.

      • spudchukar - Sep 17, 2013 at 8:11 PM

        Pretty sure the Braves had things going their way for quite awhile. If they don’t secure the home field advantage, I predict their play-offs will be traditionally short.

      • misterj167 - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:16 PM

        Not sure, with his arm, I don’t know if the runner at third would have made it home, or even tried. With one out and no one on first he wouldn’t have been running on the swing anyway.

        Also, you know, I’m getting a little tired of these “The Braves will choke in the playoffs” lines, they’re just dumb, and mostly sour grapes from teams who were out of the playoffs weeks ago anyway. There’s no team in the NL that stands out right now, it’s a crap shoot. Yeah the Braves would have a better chance if they had home field, but you know what, in a short series anything can happen and far worse teams than the Braves have gone all the way.

        If I were a betting man, I’d bet on the Dodgers going to the series right now, though they just got their asses handed to them by the Giants.

  5. southpaw2k - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Up is down, wrong is right, Aquaman is superior to Batman, and pie is better than cake.

    • nbjays - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:42 PM

      Exactly… except that pie IS better than cake. Hey, three out of four ain’t bad (with apologies to Meat Loaf).

  6. Walk - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Kimbrel missed his spot on laroche, but according to the kzone he threw laroche 4 strikes and 2 balls. The strike zone was inconsistent to say the least for both sides all game long.

    • NatsLady - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      Ain’t that the truth.

      The Nats made SO many mistakes in the 8th inning, in addition to the Desi error and the Clip HR pitch (which was NOT a strike, it was shoulder high, but Gattis likes ‘em high). Fredi brought a lefty in with two outs, he promptly walked Harper. Left him in and he was about to walk Desi (3-0 count) until Desi helped him out by swinging at three balls (one, maybe close). Gr……

      Another weirdness was Dan Haren throwing six innings of 1-run ball. Man, you just never know.

      Let’s play two.

  7. natstowngreg - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Stuff like this happens when you’re winning. The Nats are winning: 12-3 in September, 26-10 since the debacle at Nats Park (vs. the Braves) in early August.

    Yes, they accomplished this against a (ahem) less than challenging schedule. So what? They had to go out and beat the teams in front of them. Their pursuit of a spot in the National League Death Match(tm) Is probably still futile, since the NL Central teams they’re chasing haven’t collapsed. But it’s been a lot of fun.

    As for the Braves, I’d imagine their concern is less about the Nats catching them (9 games up with 12 to play) than about losing best record in the NL.

  8. billgatesbarber - Sep 17, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    I wish Oswalt was still an Astro right now…

  9. grumpyoleman - Sep 17, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Errors are overrated because they rely on someone hitting a ball to you that you should be able to make a play on

  10. disgracedfury - Sep 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Kimbrel blew the save not Simmons.If it was a one run lead than maybe Simmons should have had that play being more important.But Kimbrel gave up three runs and Simmons name shouldn’t be in the title of this page giving Kimbrel an excuse for the blown save.

    Kimbrel is great but he’s not gonna have it everyday.

  11. thomas844 - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    As a Reds fan, this kind of pisses me off.

  12. psunick - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    A one-run loss? Luck.

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  15. slothb77 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    When i saw Kimbrel got a BS on a Simmons error, i wondered if they did it on purpose. The Braves have beaten up on the Nats pretty bad all year and I wonder if they prefer the Nats get the WC instead of the Reds and were trying to help us out. The division is locked up. The losses mean nothing to Atlanta. Perhaps the Braves are trying to help the Nats get the Wild Card.

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