Craig Kimbrel Blows NLCS Game 3 for Phillies With Brutal Meltdown

The Phillies lost Game 3 of the NLCS in ugly fashion.
Craig Kimbrel lost Game 3 for the Phillies with a brutal ninth-inning meltdown.
Craig Kimbrel lost Game 3 for the Phillies with a brutal ninth-inning meltdown. / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There's a reason that Phillies manager Rob Thomson said he would use a closer-by-committee approach in the playoffs, and it's that Craig Kimbrel can't be trusted in big moments.

Kimbrel proved that throughout the regular season, and he proved it again at the worst possible time against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Phillies NLCS Game 3

Kimbrel was brought into a 1-1 game in the bottom of the ninth (replacing Jose Alvarado), and things immediately started going haywire. He walked Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to lead off the inning, which is never a good thing for a closer to do. Gurriel then stole second base easily as Kimbrel allowed him to get a massive jump.

Pavin Smith rolled an infield single to put runners on the corners, and then he took second base on defensive indifference. With Philadelphia's infield drawn in, Emmanuel Rivera ripped a hard-hit grounder right at Trea Turner, who made an incredible play to cut down Gurriel at the plate and notch the first out of the inning.

Stopping the run only delayed the inevitable, however, as Kimbrel continued to unravel. He issued another walk to Geraldo Perdomo, loading the bases and giving himself zero margin for error. Ketel Marte promptly got the winning run home by smoking a single to center field, scoring Smith and clinching a walk-off 2-1 win for the Diamondbacks.

It was an absolutely disastrous inning for Kimbrel, and Phillies fans could see it a mile away. The veteran closer cost Philadelphia multiple games during the regular season with his late-inning collapses, finishing the year with 6 losses and 5 blown saves. That's why Thomson effectively stripped him of his closing job coming into the playoffs.

Kimbrel seemed to earn it back by converting all 3 of his save opportunities in the postseason so far, but it was only a matter of time before he turned in a dud like this. His shaky command tends to get him into trouble, and that was glaringly obvious in Game 3 as he struggled to find the plate (throwing only 13 of 24 pitches for strikes).

Time will tell if Thomson still has faith in Kimbrel after his ugly outing or if he'll turn to someone else with the game on the line.

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