NEW YORK -- Aroldis Chapman paused in his signature wide stance at the base of the Yankee Stadium mound, admiring his handiwork with an intense stare. In a power vs. power showdown between players sharing a surname, the Yankees' closer prevailed.
“Chappy was throwing the ball really well today,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “Credit to [the A's] for stringing some tough at-bats against him to give themselves an opportunity there, but it's good to see Chappy, now a few times in a row, kind of find his groove again.”
Boone had to watch the final outs of Saturday’s game on a television screen, having been ejected by home-plate umpire Sean Barber for arguing balls and strikes following Chapman’s one-out walk to Mark Canha. The fourth and fifth pitches of the at-bat were strikes, in Boone’s view.
Jed Lowrie flied out, but Matt Olson reached on an infield hit and Ramón Laureano cashed in a run-scoring single to bring up Chapman, who had homered earlier in the game off Yankees starter Domingo Germán.
Chapman reared back to get Strike 1 on a 101.1 mph swinging strike, then pumped a 100.8 mph heater in for Strike 2.
"He's been doing that for over 10 years. It's never an easy at-bat,” said the A’s Elvis Andrus. “The ball gets there really fast, so it's really hard to put a good swing on it.”
The 103.4 mph two-seamer on Strike 3 was Chapman’s fastest pitch since July 2, 2018, and the fastest strikeout pitch in the Majors since the Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks lit up the gun at 104.2 mph on April 21, 2019.
It was Chapman’s fastest strikeout pitch since a 103.7 mph punchout of Jorge Polanco to end the 2017 American League Wild Card Game against the Twins.
“Anything can happen with [Matt] Chapman hitting,” Andrus said. “But Chapman vs. Chapman, that was a really explosive matchup right there. He was throwing 103. Not that easy to hit that one."