Craig Kimbrel getting adjusted to the Orioles: 'It feels good to be playing good ball right now' -
Rich Dubroff

Craig Kimbrel getting adjusted to the Orioles: ‘It feels good to be playing good ball right now’

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


PITTSBURGH—Craig Kimbrel recorded his first save for the Orioles on Friday, the 418th of his career. Kimbrel, who signed with the Orioles last December and is replacing injured closer Félix Bautista, is eighth on the all-time saves list, trailing Billy Wagner by four saves.

Kimbrel retired the Pittsburgh Pirates in order, striking out Rowdy Tellez and Henry Davis before Jared Triolo flew out to right to end the game.

“1-2-3 feels good every time,” Kimbrel said. “It definitely felt good in a well played game.”

Manager Brandon Hyde concurred with Kimbrel’s assessment.

“I thought he threw the ball great,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Craig threw the ball extremely well there in the ninth inning, aggressiveness in the strike zone, really good breaking balls. He had life to his fastballs. He was super aggressive in the strike zone yesterday.”

Kimbrel pitched in awful conditions. Game-time temperature was 40 degrees, and there was rain, snow, sleet and winds during the contest.

“I don’t think you ever get used to throwing in the snow,” Kimbrel said. “Luckily enough, when I was out there it kind of calmed down. It was nicer. It was interesting to see the hail and the snow and the rain and all those conditions yesterday. I’m glad it stopped when I was out there.”

Kimbrel has pitched in two of the Orioles’ seven games, allowing a run in Monday’s ninth inning against the Royals, blowing a save chance before Jordan Westburg’s two-run home run made him the winning pitcher in the bottom of the ninth.

“I’m happy with how it’s playing. I know my velocity is definitely down a little bit,” he said. “My spin is playing well. I’ve still got life on my pitches, so right now I’m out there pitching and trying to miss bats still, no matter what the velocity is. I’m getting guys out with spin. Overall, the way the ball’s coming out of my hand, I like it.”

Kimbrel’s fastest pitch was 93.8 mph on Friday.

“I’m just making pitches. That’s all I can worry about,” he said. “The start of last year, my velocity was down as well, probably a mile-an-hour, a little less than I was to start last year. I haven’t really looked at the numbers, but that’s how I feel. As we go, it will climb. It usually does.”

At 35, Kimbrel is with his eighth team. He didn’t pitch this season until the Orioles’ fourth game, and he didn’t pitch in a game from March 20th until Monday, 12 days off.

“It’s been kind of nice to come in here and get used to the new environment,” Kimbrel said. “Being at home is nice. Getting to know the new clubhouse, creating a new routine, and getting back to watching these boys smack the ball around and getting to do all that at the same time, that was pretty nice, actually.

“It feels good to be playing good ball right now. Getting those opportunities when needed has been nice. Obviously, as the season goes, we’ll see that go up. You might get a couple of days off, but all of a sudden, you’re throwing quite a few in a row.”

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