Craig Kimbrel wanted between 30 and 40 Alabama family and friends to attend his rare milestone because he knew this would be a special night.
The hard-throwing nearer turned into the eighth pitcher in significant association history to procure 400 recoveries as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Overcomes 6-4 on Friday.
“I’m happy it was here in Atlanta,” said Kimbrel, who began his career with the Braves. “I am happy the majority of my family was here to see it. Getting to take it in and enjoy it with them is great.”
Kimbrel, 34, pitched a scoreless ninth inning in his 730th career start to earn his sixth save in six chances this season. Of the seven past relievers to arrive at 400 recoveries, just Mariano Rivera (697 games), Trevor Hoffman (706) and Kenley Jansen (778) arrived at the achievement in less than 800 appearances.
The 2011 NL Rookie of the Year, Kimbrel spent his first five seasons in Atlanta. He was a four-time All-Star for the Braves, and he still holds the record for most saves made by a team with 186. This is his most memorable season with Philadelphia. Kimbrel has faced 54 batters in his 15 games since April 16 and has struck out 26 in 14 innings, but the right-hander has struggled at times this year with a 5.68 earned run average.
Kimbrel made his name as one of the game’s most fearsome relievers with the Braves after growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, about three hours away from Atlanta. He has been named a Top pick multiple times, and he assisted the Boston Red Sox with winning the 2018 Worldwide championship.
Although he claimed that he never set out to break records or appear on exclusive lists, his career has been fairly successful.
“My goal is to show up and get ready to pitch in those opportunities as much as I can,” Kimbrel said. “Always knowing I was closing games, I was hoping to get 35 to 40 a year doing my job, and that’s about it. It’s one year at a time, one save at a time.”
Brandon Swamp hit a thumbs up, two-run single in the 6th for Philadelphia.
With the bases loaded and facing reliever Joe Jiménez (0-1), Marsh scored Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto with a single to left field, making it 4-3. The Phillies scored two times in the seventh off Lucas Luetge on Trea Turner’s RBI twofold and Bryce Harper’s fielder’s choice.
The Braves, who led the NL, fell to 31-20. Philadelphia, trapped in fourth spot in the NL East in the wake of progressing to the Worldwide championship last year, is 24-27. The division standings have the Phillies seven games behind Atlanta.
For Kimbrel, the night was exceptional on the grounds that he got to celebrate with such countless friends and family.
“They’ve been supporting me forever,” he said. “A lot of them were saying, ‘This feels weird celebrating here in Atlanta.’ It brought back a lot of memories, hanging out with the same group of people in the tunnel after the game and catching up.”
He said he wasn’t even anxious emerging from the warm up area, and he shut the game by getting Ronald Acuna Jr. on a grounder to third with a sprinter on.
“No, I was pretty locked in,” Kimbrel said. “I mean, I had a lot of chances to think about it. I’ve been sitting pretty close to this milestone for a while now and I’ve just been able to throw the ball well lately. I was really just worried about getting the win tonight, and once the final out was made I was able to relax.”
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