What Craig Kimbrel had to say after that roller coaster of a 9th inning in Red Sox win vs. Yankees

"I knew he had it all day long."

Craig Kimbrel pitching the 9th inning in ALDS Game 4.
Craig Kimbrel pitching the ninth inning in ALDS Game 4. –Ben Solomon/The New York Times

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel made it exciting in the ninth inning, but the result was all that mattered for Boston fans. For the first time since 2013, the Red Sox are heading back to the American League Championship Series.

Kimbrel entered with a 4-1 lead, emerging with a 4-3 win on the slimmest of margins thanks to first baseman Steve Pearce’s stretch to make the final out.

“Well, I’m not going out there trying to do that,” Kimbrel acknowledged afterward. “I tried to have a 1-2-3 inning, but it doesn’t always work out like that. At the end of the day, we got the win. Looking forward to Houston.”

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The 30-year-old closer admitted one moment worried him: facing Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez.

“The 3-2 [pitch] to Sanchez was pretty nerve-wracking, but it got to the second out, and we were able to get through it,” Kimbrel said.

Yet despite surrendering two runs, he remained calm.

“Sometimes it’s just slowing it down and getting it back in the zone,” Kimbrel explained. “Sometimes guys can be a little aggressive as well when you’re not finding the zone with certain pitches. It’s not always going to be pretty.”

As for that final, excruciating out, Kimbrel was unruffled.

“I knew [Steve] had it all day long,” he said.

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