Kimbrel ready for more after four-out save

Kimbrel ready for more after four-out save

ATLANTA -- Craig Kimbrel is always giving. On Wednesday night, he gave the Braves a rare four-out save, then followed that up Thursday morning by handing out goodies from a huge box full of All-Star Game souvenirs.

Wednesday night, Kimbrel came on to relieve Eric O'Flaherty with runners on first and third and two out in the eighth inning of a 1-0 game. Kimbrel struck out Jordan Pacheco before fanning the side in the ninth to preserve the victory.

The four-out save was the first of Kimbrel's career, his first attempt in 122 appearances and only the fourth time he's pitched more than one inning.

Having familiarized himself with what it takes, he's open to doing it again.

"The role of the closer isn't just go out there and get three outs. It's go out there and finish the game whenever you're asked to come in," said Kimbrel, who added he was "good to go" Thursday, after the 25-pitch effort.

Kimbrel has benefited from a reduced workload, as Wednesday's appearance was his 50th and put him at 50 1/3 innings pitched. At this point last year, he had already made 70 appearances and thrown 68 2/3 innings.

The flamethrower admitted having to go back out for the ninth made for an interesting mindset, especially during the bottom of the eighth.

"I found myself trying to stay focused in the dugout," he said. "I saw my name on the scoreboard and I was like, 'Man, let's go down there and get me an at-bat. ... Nah, let's stay focused.' I found myself not knowing how to come out of the dugout -- do I run out there or do I walk? I'm not used to making a U-turn to go back out."

Kimbrel not only gave the Braves a shot at a winning record for the homestand, he also came bearing the gifts Thursday morning -- memorabilia from the 2011 All-Star Game, including All-Star Game garden gnomes for his bullpen colleagues.

"It's something I thought would be funny to give the guys," he said. "It's a little different."

The gnomes were well received.

"I guess it's for us getting him to the All-Star Game," said Kris Medlen. "I feel honored."

Kimbrel also handed out All-Star Game T-shirts to the rest of the team and ordered children's All-Star Game replica jerseys for his fiancee's nieces and nephews. He treated himself to a 24K gold ball to put in his trophy case.

Gathering souvenirs has become something of a hobby for Kimbrel, who did so at last year's All-Star Game, as well.

"I'm on top of my jersey signings. I try to get a lot of guys' jerseys. It will make a pretty cool room someday," he said.

"I'm still waiting on Hank Aaron to come down here so I can get his autograph," he added.