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Kimbrel fastest to 300 saves in Red Sox win

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

ARLINGTON -- If Saturday night's game had been played at Fenway Park, Craig Kimbrel would have received a thunderous ovation from the crowd when he nailed down his 300th save, becoming the fastest pitcher in history to reach that milestone.

Instead, the ovation was waiting for Kimbrel when he returned to the clubhouse after pinning down a 6-5 win for the Red Sox over the Rangers at Globe Life Park.

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ARLINGTON -- If Saturday night's game had been played at Fenway Park, Craig Kimbrel would have received a thunderous ovation from the crowd when he nailed down his 300th save, becoming the fastest pitcher in history to reach that milestone.

Instead, the ovation was waiting for Kimbrel when he returned to the clubhouse after pinning down a 6-5 win for the Red Sox over the Rangers at Globe Life Park.

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Kimbrel's teammates and coaches were all there waiting for him, and they celebrated his accomplishment.

"They clapped for a long time," Kimbrel said. "It was nice to have these guys behind me and to show their appreciation for me -- it's really neat. Everything I do every night is to go out there and make sure what they do counts so it was really neat for them to be waiting on me. They're waiting on me a lot, usually for a bus -- not for me to get back in the clubhouse. It was very nice and I'm glad they did that."

The warmth from his teammates was the recognition not only for what Kimbrel has done in his career, but also for what he has gone through over the last several months.

Kimbrel's daughter Lydia Joy was born last November with a heart defect, and had her first surgery at four days old. There would be another surgery in March, and Kimbrel missed much of Spring Training as he helped his wife Ashley care for Lydia.

"I think he got emotional," manager Alex Cora said. "We've been going through a lot together as a team. There's been more positive things happening to him off the field lately than on the field and he's been great on the field. That gives us a lot of energy.

"She was with us on the last day of the homestand and she was smiling, and the way he's carrying her is -- it's unreal what he's doing to be honest. For him to be locked in here with us and giving his best while everything was happening with us in Spring Training and everything that is happening with his life is unreal."

The hard-throwing righty, who is building credentials that could one day land him in the Hall of Fame, is the 29th pitcher in history to record 300 saves.

But Kimbrel was the swiftest to reach the feat by appearances (494), save opportunities (330) and age (29).

Fittingly, the milestone occurred on a significant anniversary.

"It feels like forever and also feels like it's flown by," Kimbrel said. "Eight years ago today, I got called up for the first time so it's neat to go get my 300th save on the same day and it's great. I've been a part of a lot of great teams, a lot of save opportunities, a lot of chances. If it wasn't for that, we wouldn't be talking today so I'm very grateful for that."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Craig Kimbrel