Summer 2024

Craig Kimbrel closes out All-Star Game for NL while pointing people to Jesus

Philadelphia Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel added another accomplishment to his long list of accolades Tuesday night, recording the final three outs of the National League’s 3-2 win over the American League to earn his first All-Star Game save. Kimbrel struck out Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez in Rodríguez’s home ballpark to end the game.

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The victory was the NL’s first since 2012 and ended the AL’s nine-game winning streak (the game was not played in 2020).

Kimbrel was named to the All-Star team as a replacement for Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams. Kimbrel is now one of 13 pitchers to make nine or more appearances in the Midsummer Classic.

“It’s a crazy list to be on,” Kimbrel told “I try not to focus on accomplishments too much or what I’ve been able to do. I try to focus on what I want to continue to do. But it’s one of those ‘pinch yourself to see if things are real’ type stuff.”

The 35-year-old has a 3.41 ERA and 14 saves (eighth in the NL) in 37 innings with the Phillies this season. He signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia after playing for three different teams (Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers) in the past two years.

By the end of the season, the Phillies will likely be the sixth different team Kimbrel has recorded at least 20 saves for. He picked up the 400th save of his career back in May and could realistically be as high as fifth on the all-time saves list when the postseason begins. He is currently in eighth, two behind Kenley Jansen of the Boston Red Sox.

Throughout his career, Kimbrel has been sustained by his faith in God. He told Sports Spectrum at a conference shortly after the 2019 season that he felt unfulfilled until giving his life to Christ.

“At one point in my life, I had everything that I wanted, but something was still missing,” he said. “I think that’s a story that a lot of people can tell who’ve had success, who’s made money. All those things don’t fill you. They sometimes make you more empty and the only answer is Jesus and what we can do to let everyone know who He is.”

The 2011 Rookie of the Year and 2018 World Series champion used to blow things out of proportion and put too much weight on how he was performing. His relationship with the Lord helps him keep everything in perspective.

“I think I used to put a lot of pressure on myself,” he told Sports Spectrum. “I used to make things a lot bigger than they were. I used to think I was a lot more important than I am. You do start to understand those things, but with Christ those things start making a lot more sense and start coming a lot easier.”

As Kimbrel’s continued to grow in his faith, he’s gained a deep appreciation for God’s grace and blessings.

“If we look in the mirror at who we are, I mean, we don’t deserve anything,” Kimbrel said. “We don’t deserve all the things we’re given in life but for some reason God continues to give them to us.”

The Phillies begin the second half of the season half a game out of the playoffs. They start a four-game series with the San Diego Padres on Friday. Should Kimbrel record at least 10 more saves this season, it would be his best mark since posting 42 in 2018 with the Red Sox.

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