You could hardly hear Slash’s guitar riff on “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” as Craig Kimbrel strolled out from beneath the Wrigley field bleachers for the first time as a Cub. The closer was noticeably excited, hitting 98 mph right out of the gate with his fastball, but he wasn’t about to let the fans off easy with a 1-2-3 inning.
After getting a backwards K that reddened Brian McCann‘s perpetually crimson ass three more shades, Kimbrel got Johan Camargo to ground out to second. Then he gave up a ringing double to Ronald Acuña Jr. before walking Dansby Swanson to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in Freddie Freeman, who roped a grounder down the line.
Anthony Rizzo fielded the ball cleanly well behind the bag, then, after realizing his pitcher had forgotten to cover first, sprinted to the base and dove like a running back reaching for the pylon. He narrowly beat his counterpart, thus securing a win for his team and a steak dinner for himself once the Cubs’ charter touches down in Cincinnati.
As much as something like running to the bag on a play toward first might seem like second nature, it’s one of those things that can easily get lost in a moment like Kimbrel found himself in Thursday. The guy had been pitching to a plywood cutout in his barn, he wasn’t working on fielding drills. And I’m reasonably sure he wasn’t doing any at Iowa, either.
A win is a win and should be celebrated as such, but the Cubs have gotten pretty sloppy here over the last couple weeks and that needs to be cleaned up posthaste. Little baserunning miscues and other mental lapses have been the hallmark of their play, and those are exactly the sort of things this team had railed against all winter.
But hey, the Cubs have their elite closer and he looked it for the most part in his debut. His fastball averaged 96.5 mph, his curveball was great when he wasn’t hanging it, and he located well to lefties. On to Cincy, where even the swankiest spot is going to be fine with Rizzo wearing this shirt. Ohhhh yeeeeeah.
Anthony Rizzo after the game wearing a Randy Macho Man Savage shirt in the locker room pic.twitter.com/qjUnWE4aw4
— Ⓜ️arcusD ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) June 27, 2019