Craig Kimbrel picks up save in Cubs debut thanks to some help from Anthony Rizzo

On Thursday, the Chicago Cubs recalled closer Craig Kimbrel from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs used Kimbrel right away, and though it wasn't without some drama, the right-hander notched his first save of the 2019 MLB season in Thursday's 9-7 win over the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Thanks to a comeback from a five-run deficit, the Cubs set up Kimbrel for his first save on his 2019 MLB season debut.

Kimbrel received a standing ovation from the Wrigley crowd as he jogged in from the bullpen with Guns N' Roses playing.

The first Braves batter to face Kimbrel in the top of the ninth was catcher Brian McCann. Kimbrel struck him out looking, although the final call, a called strike on an 0-2 curveball, had McCann displeased. Kimbrel got his second out of the game on a grounder from Johan Camargo

Here's when he got into a bit of trouble. Kimbrel gave up a Ronald Acuna Jr. double to left field followed by a four-pitch walk to Dansby Swanson. With the go-ahead run at the plate in Freddie Freeman, Kimbrel induced a ground ball to first base and Anthony Rizzo needed to beat out Freeman with diving tag on the base.

After months in free agency, Kimbrel joined the Cubs on June 7 when he signed a three-year, $43 million dollar contract with a vesting/club option for the 2022 season. 

Chicago initially gave Kimbrel a few weeks to get his arm ready for MLB action at the spring training facility and with the Triple-A team. He has made four appearances for the Iowa Cubs, posting a 2.45 ERA (1 ER/3.2 IP) with a 0.82 WHIP. His last outing in the minors came on Tuesday when he retired the side in order on 16 pitches with a pair of strikeouts.

Kimbrel, 31, joined the Red Sox in 2016 after five seasons with the Braves as well as one year with the Padres. He was part of a Boston team that made three consecutive trips to the postseason, averaging 36 saves a year over that span. During last year's World Series champion run, Kimbrel notched 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA in 63 relief outings, striking out 96 batters in 62 1/3 innings pitched. 

Kimbrel leads all active pitchers with 334 saves, it's the 14th most in MLB history. He needs seven saves to match Rollie Fingers for 13th place and 13 to pull even with Randy Myers for 12th.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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