High heat: Chapman freezes batters
Reds' closer hits 100 mph or more on 12 of 14 pitches
CINCINNATI -- Todd Frazier has his show-stopping moment for the home crowd on Monday. On Tuesday, it was Reds closer Aroldis Chapman's turn to bring the fire with his fastballs and put American League hitters on ice.
During the National League's 6-3 loss to the AL in the 86th All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile, Chapman pitched the top of the ninth inning and struck out the side of Brock Holt, Mike Moustakas and Mark Teixeira.
"I feel really happy. I can't describe it, but I feel like I had so much fun," Chapman said via translator Tomas Vera following his fourth All-Star Game. "I want to do this. I'm happy I threw the ninth. I had a chance to show the fans and everybody else what they're used to seeing every night, pitching the way I do."
Chapman threw 14 pitches, 12 of which were clocked at 100 mph or faster. Against Moustakas, where MLB.com's Gameday measured two pitches at 103 mph, Chapman's perceived velocity topped 104 mph on all three strikes, according to Statcast™.
Perceived velocity also accounts for the pitcher's extension, and Chapman's long arms means he releases the ball closer to home plate than most hurlers. The pitch that Moustakas fouled off for strike two had a perceived velocity of 104.59 mph, a mark the Chapman has topped just three times all season.
"I thought Ned [Yost] and I had a good relationship," a smiling Moustakas said about his manager. "Really, it's a tough at-bat. A [103-mph fastball]? Really? It can be uncomfortable, but at least he throws strikes. At least I touched one of them."
Teixeira's strikeout pitch came in at 102 mph.
"That was fun; I'm not sure if I've ever faced 102," Teixeira said. "I did my best, fouled off a couple pitches. That was a fun at-bat, because we were winning the game. If we were losing the game, it wouldn't have been a fun at-bat."
Chapman has been closer to 100-101 mph much of this season, where he has notched 18 saves in 19 chances with a 1.69 ERA in 38 games.
"In this kind of game, you're going to have a little more energy," Chapman said. "I take care of this, to not go over the limit. I believe that if you're trying to do more than what you can actually do, you can get hurt."
Chapman also made some All-Star history. Along with Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, the two formed the first Cuban battery in the Midsummer Classic. Joe Azcue in 1968 was the only other Cuban-born catcher to appear in an All-Star Game.
"Happy and proud to do this," Chapman said.
Grandal was a first-round Draft pick of the Reds in 2010, who was traded to the Padres before the 2012 season.
"It couldn't have worked out any better," Grandal said. "I was hoping I would catch him, because I caught him in Cincinnati for a little bit [in 2011 at Triple-A and big league camp in Spring Training] and I wanted to see what the difference was. It was much easier to catch him today than it was a couple of years back. I was also just happy to get in the game."
Meanwhile, it was tough for Frazier to pull off an encore to his thrilling victory in Monday's Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders. Given a loud standing ovation before the All-Star Game and during his at-bats, Frazier went 0-for-3 with three grounders. Reds All-Star hitters are now a combined 0-for-22 since Scott Rolen singled in the 2010 Midsummer Classic.
"I saw a couple pitches that last at-bat. Yeah, [I was] just a little tired," Frazier said. "But I definitely was trying to get a hit, and trying to help the team as much as possible. It's the best pitching in the world. So not everybody's Mike Trout. It's tough to do."
Not only did Frazier lack power at the ballpark, he lacked it at home. His house lost electricity overnight, preventing from watching a re-air of his dramatic Derby win on television. He watched it on his mobile phone instead, draining its battery.
But nothing could take away from Frazier's All-Star experience, which was starkly different than his first in Minneapolis last year.
"You have people that love you and want to see you do well, most of them here," Frazier said. "[I was] trying to put on a show for them. I didn't get a hit. I didn't do much, but you expect a little more out of yourself just because you're here at home. I tried, but just didn't have much energy or anything. It was just a lot of fun. Every time I got up there, I heard the crowd and you just wanted time to stop. It's just a pretty, pretty cool feeling."