The secret to being a good closer lies in the ability to shake off the inevitable ugly outing and move on unbowed to the next challenge.

Early in the process of making himself into the Braves most consistent, reliable asset — it was the night of Sept. 9, 2011, to be precise — Craig Kimbrel showed himself capable of world-class bounce-back.

He had that night in St. Louis mapped out so well. He had the reservation at the fancy restaurant. He had the ring. After the night game against the Cardinals, at dinner, he would surprise Ashley Holt with the proposal.

Only the Cardinals rewrote the script. They scored two off Kimbrel in ninth, sending the game into extras. The eventual Braves loss was one of the more disturbing in a long line that would add up to a colossal September meltdown.

By the time Kimbrel washed that one off, the fancy joint was closed. He had to scramble just to find somewhere else to eat. Over dinner he stewed about what to do. Back at the hotel, at the last moment, when he usually does his best work, he asked Ashley to marry him.