That number figures to get a lot bigger before he’s through.
Kimbrel got the final four outs in the Braves’ 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night, earning his 16th save of the season (in 18 tries) and 155th of his career. That’s one more than John Smoltz.
Those 155 saves have come in 172 opportunities.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of good teams and had a lot of opportunities,” Kimbrel said. “Having the chance my first full season to be a closer, that doesn’t happen very often and that’s why we’re sitting here talking today, because I had that opportunity a lot of guys don’t have.
“I feel blessed and grateful for it.”
Kimbrel had one save in 2010, 46 in 2011, 42 in 2012 and 50 in 2013.
“I’ve played with him for four years and some change and he’s already the franchise leader in saves,” teammate Jason Heyward said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Hayward drove in three runs, two with a home run, and Andrelton Simmons doubled in a run for the Braves.
Julio Teheran (6-3) gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings to win his fourth straight decision.
Didi Gregorius became the first Diamondback to hit leadoff home runs in consecutive starts. He did it Wednesday in Colorado, sat out Thursday’s game, then did it again Friday.
Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy (1-8) allowed three runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out nine and walking one.
McCarthy singled in the tying run in the fifth, his first career RBI.
Kimbrel entered the game with two outs and a runner at first in the eighth inning and got his former Atlanta teammate Martin Prado looking to end the inning.
With a three-run lead in the ninth, Kimbrel got Aaron Hill and David Peralta to fly out, then Tuffy Gosewich popped out to end it.
It was just his third career four-out save.
“He hadn’t pitched since last Saturday,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “so we were able to do that.”
The Braves broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh when, with one out, Heyward drew the only walk McCarthy allowed. Simmons lashed a double to the corner in left, scoring Heyward from first.
The Atlanta leadoff hitter used his long arms to connect with a ball that was high and outside and drove it to the opposite field.
“It was a pitch I don’t expect to get hit at all,” McCarthy said. “It was right where I wanted it. It was a hard four-seamer up and away and I wanted to use it to establish something else. He took a good swing at it and hit a home run. I was pretty surprised.”
They added another run in the ninth on Heyward’s RBI single.
Right fielder Gerardo Parra robbed Simmons of an extra-base hit and probably saved a run with a diving grab in the ninth.
Atlanta took the lead in the fifth when Jordan Schafer doubled over third base to start the inning. He scored on Heyward’s home run to left that made it 2-1.
Gregorius, called up from Triple-A Reno on Tuesday, opened the game with a shot just over the fence in right.
Teheran didn’t allow another hit until Peralta, another recent arrival from the minors, led off the fifth with a ground-rule double. Teheran retired the next two batters, but McCarthy — 2 for 23 for the season to that point — slapped a single between shortstop and third to bring Peralta home and tie it 2-2.
Ex-Diamondback Justin Upton, greeted with a mix of boos and cheers, struck out three times against McCarthy, then flied out to the fence in right and drove in a run with a bloop single in the ninth.
NOTES: In the second day of the amateur draft, Arizona chose OF Matt Railey of North Florida Christian Academy. He’s committed to Florida State. ... Braves RHP Jordan Walden, recovering from a strained left hamstring, began a rehab assignment Thursday night for Triple-A Gwinnett against Columbus, facing four batters in two-thirds inning, giving up a run and two hits. He struck out the first three batters, but the third reached on a wild pitch. The next batter homered. ... On Saturday night, the Braves have RHP Ervin Santana (5-2, 4.10 ERA) facing LHP Wade Miley (3-6, 4.85).