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Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 4: Crumbling Craig Kimbrel

Boston’s closer has a few days to get himself together. If he doesn’t, the ninth could be ugly.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Playing out their mostly meaningless string, the Red Sox just had to not get hurt. Or at least, that was how it was supposed to go. Well, no injuries tonight. Just another frightening outing from Craig Kimbrel that has to have the Sox wondering if they can have any confidence in late leads come the ALDS.

This was not a great game of baseball for the Red Sox, simply put. Eduardo Rodriguez was electric again, but not nearly so effectively as he was in his last outing. This time scattered amidst the many strikeouts were five walks, including three straight to start the second. That rough start lead to two runs for the Jays, matching what Chris Young’s bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the first had produced.

The last of those walks would go to Russell Martin start the sixth, and lead to Rodriguez’ departure from the game in favor of Matt Barnes, who could not prevent the inherited runner from scoring.

The Sox would ultimately get back that run and tie the game up on a balk of all things. Mookie Betts would be the man to score it, leading off the inning with an accidental double as he tried to hold up on a high fastball but made contact all-the-same. Betts moved to third on a double play after a Hanley Ramirez walk, then Roberto Osuna started to come up into his delivery and just..stopped, realizing his mistake and taking his foot off the rubber much too late to prevent the call.

If the Jays had been looking at that as the cause for a loss that might have left their wild card position in Jeopardy...Well, let’s just say it would not have been terribly pretty. But Good Guy Craig Kimbrel was there to bail them out. Once again looking like a Hollywood caricature—Ricky Vaughn, anyone?—Kimbrel walked the first man he faced, saw him move to second on a sacrifice bunt, then gave him third by airmailing a pitch over Christian Vazquez’ head. Ezequiel Carrera then needed only a fly ball to left field to give the Jays the lead that would hold up for the win.

So that’s an ugly finish, and a third straight ugly performance from Craig Kimbrel, who can’t seem to find the strike zone to save his life. It’s also highly likely that this is the last we see from him before the postseason. He’ll have a nice break to get himself right, but we won’t know if that’s provided any results until it counts in the biggest possible way.

Oh, and the Indians now control their destiny for home field advantage, which is certainly unfortunate. But they’re also sending Trevor Bauer up against Rick Porcello in game one of the ALCS, which is kind of why the Sox were fine with not taking that top seed from the Rangers, even if they’d prefer second to third.