Kimbrel locks up save in tidy four-pitch outing

Closer is fourth Padres pitcher to achieve feat while working one inning

Kimbrel locks up save in tidy four-pitch outing

SAN DIEGO -- There's nothing particularly easy about earning a Major League save, even if Craig Kimbrel has often made it look that way during his career.

Kimbrel, who has the most saves in the big leagues since 2011 (211), worked an efficient inning Monday in picking up his 26th save of the season in the Padres' 4-2 victory over the Giants.

How efficient? Try just four pitches.

Kimbrel got Brandon Crawford on a first-pitch ground ball to second baseman Jedd Gyorko. The next batter, Gregor Blanco, actually saw two pitches, sending a 1-0 fastball in Gyorko's direction, a ground ball for the second out.

Finally, Kimbrel got pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez on a first-pitch fastball, a routine fly ball to Melvin Upton Jr. to end the game.

Four pitches, all fastballs, three outs.

"To do it in four pitches is nice," Kimbrel said. "It's nice to get in there and get my work in. I'm just trying to get ahead in the count and get out of there."

Kimbrel became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to earn a save in four pitches while also working one inning. Trevor Hoffman (2000, 2005) and Lance McCullers (1988) also did it.

For Kimbrel, it's the first time in his career he's worked such an efficient inning for a save. He previously earned saves covering one inning with seven pitches on five occasions.

He also earned a save in the team's fifth consecutive game, tying a franchise record set by Hoffman (1999), Mark Davis (1989) and Rollie Fingers (1977).

San Diego interim manager Pat Murphy was impressed.

"One too many pitches," he said, smiling. "It was really nice. He's throwing the ball good. And he didn't throw a breaking ball, either."

Kimbrel went into Tuesday's game with the Giants at Petco Park with the fifth-most saves in the National League. Since May 25, he's 15-for-15 in save opportunities with 29 strikeouts over 20 2/3 innings.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.