10/04/12 5:48 PM ET
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
After impressive season, Kimbrel focused on playoffs
ATLANTA -- Closer Craig Kimbel ended the regular season by striking out three batters to finish the Braves' 4-0 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday. Striking out the side was only fitting for Kimbrel, who set a Major League record with 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings this season.
"To finish off the last regular-season game was pretty cool," Kimbrel said. "It doesn't hurt that I was able to go out there and strike out the side."
Kimbrel's final appearance of the regular season capped an historic campaign for the righty. He earned his second All-Star Game selection, struck out 116 batters in 62 2/3 innings, and joined former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks as the only players to have saved at least 40 games in each of their first two seasons.
Such a dominant season has placed Kimbrel in the National League Cy Young Award conversation. Right-hander Kris Medlen, who will start Friday's NL Wild Card game for the Braves, said he thought Kimbrel deserved to win the award.
"[His season is] stupid, he's putting up numbers that no one has ever put up," Medlen said. "What he's done is unbelievable. I think he should get it, but I'm also biased."
Kimbrel, however, has turned his attention to the postseason. This will be his second playoff appearance. Just a month after making his Major League debut in 2010, Kimbrel pitched in all four of the Braves' games in the NL Division Series against the Giants.
Now, he is excited to return to the postseason.
"Everyone in here is excited, ready to go," Kimbrel said. "If you have anything going on or any problems, they just go away when the playoffs get here. You have that adrenaline, and this is what we've played all year for, is to be in this situation and to go out and have a chance.
"And we have that chance."
Shadows may be a factor in Braves-Cards tilt
ATLANTA -- With first pitch scheduled for 5:07 p.m. ET on Friday, the Braves and Cardinals will likely have to contend with more shadows than they do for a more typical evening or early-afternoon game time.
The sun is predicted to set Friday at 7:16. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said until the sun disappears around 7:30, the shadows will be difficult for both teams.
"But you would think that we'd have the advantage, because we take batting practice every day around 5 o'clock," Gonzalez said. "But that's where we're kind of nitpicking on shadows and the wind direction. It's still about those two guys on the mound and getting every opportunity to score when we get a chance."
Right fielder Jason Heyward said there will be different lighting Friday, but he doesn't expect the shadows to have much of an effect.
"Shadows, probably, for tomorrow," Heyward said. "But other than that, we're going to be playing some baseball, playoff baseball, have a good time at it."
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.