Chris Davis' Game-Winning Home Run off Craig Kimbrel Was Historic
Those who watched the Baltimore Orioles visit the Boston Red Sox yesterday were able to witness the last home opener at Fenway Park for David Ortiz.
Those who watched until the end were able to catch a different type of history and one that Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel likely wishes never happened.
In what was a back-and-forth game featuring better hitting than pitching, the Red Sox saw their probability of winning, according to FanGraphs, increase to 53.6 percent after Jackie Bradley scored in the sixth inning to tie the game at six runs apiece.
With the same score entering the top of the ninth inning, the Sox had a 57.6 percent chance to win after Orioles' outfielder Joey Rickard struck out with a runner on first.
Two batters later, history was made. Kimbrel walked Manny Machado and then Chris Davis hit a monster shot to seal the game essentially, as the probability of the Sox winning dropped 53.4 percent to just 4.2 percent.
That’s usually what happens after a three-run homer is hit in a tied game in the ninth inning.
Not only did the home run help give the Orioles the win, but it was something that had never happened before.
In 350 1/3 innings pitched prior to Monday’s game, Kimbrel had never given up a three-run homer.
Craig Kimbrel doesn't give up three-run homers. He did on Monday. But he never had before.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 11, 2016
Kimbrel had made 357 appearances before entering the game on Monday and had allowed just 18 home runs. Putting that into perspective, among relievers with a minimum of 300 innings pitched since 2011 -- Kimbrel’s first full season -- only four relievers have allowed fewer home runs, led by Greg Holland and @brad zieglerBrad Ziegler with 13. Among these four relievers, Kimbrel has 79 more saves than the next closest pitcher, and even more impressively, he leads all relievers within these same parameters in both xFIP (1.90) and Wins Above Replacement (12.7).
Long story short, Kimbrel has dominated since becoming a full-time reliever in 2011 and rarely gives up the long ball. The story was different on Monday, and to add insult to injury, the home run he allowed to Davis wasn’t just a wall scraper.
It was a monster shot.
Longest HR vs Craig Kimbrel:
David Wright: 464 feet (2013)
Chris Davis: 449 feet (today)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2016
Despite the milestone home run, Monday's loss won't be Kimbrel's last chance this season, and that's why we love baseball. There's always tomorrow.