Cardinals committed to solving Chapman
CINCINNATI -- In retiring the Cardinals in order to wrap up the Reds' 3-2 win on Tuesday night, closer Aroldis Chapman extended a string of dominance against St. Louis that goes back further than the 56 straight save opportunities he has converted at Great American Ball Park.
It's been 23 consecutive tries resulting in naught for the Cardinals, who haven't scored off Chapman since winning their 11th World Series or hiring Mike Matheny to succeed Tony La Russa.
The Cardinals have to go back to Sept. 2, 2011, to find the last time they tallied a run against Chapman, who at the time had just one career save. He now has 136.
"He throws a ball that nobody else in the game throws," said Matt Carpenter, who is 1-for-7 with four strikeouts against Chapman. "The guy touches up to 104 [mph]. I think he fell down and threw 95 [mph] tonight. He doesn't really give up home runs, and he's not a guy you're going to stand up there and get three hits off of either. I don't know anybody who likes facing that guy. We get to do it more often than most people do because he's in our division, but it's not fun."
Since the start of Matheny's managerial tenure in 2012, Chapman has held the Cardinals to six hits (only one for extra bases) and zero runs over 23 1/3 innings. He's tallied 40 strikeouts, collected 13 saves, walked only five and done it all quite efficiently, as Chapman has averaged 14.7 pitches per inning.
The Cardinals trailed by one before Rage Against the Machine's "Wake Up" signaled Chapman's entrance from the bullpen on Tuesday. Seven-hole hitter Kolten Wong worked a full count before swinging through a 99-mph fastball. Randal Grichuk, who had two hits on the night, struck out on a fastball that registered at 101 mph.
"Be ready to hit the heater," Grichuk said of his approach. "That was my second time facing him. The first time I swung at the slider, so I hadn't seen that heater before. I didn't lay off the one up."
Pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds then flew out to left to end the game.
"The more they see him, the more, I believe, they're going to be able to make adjustments," Matheny said. "There's no reason why we can't scratch something across against this guy. Once again, give credit where credit is due. He's done a nice job. But if anybody in there feels we can't hit somebody, then I'm not happy because that's just not in our DNA."
Matheny acknowledged that knowing Chapman looms would have made him more aggressive if a run-scoring opportunity had presented itself an inning earlier. But he was insistent that his team's nearly four-year scoring drought against the flame-throwing lefty does not psychologically shorten the game to eight innings.
"I refuse to give any guy in this league that much credit saying we're going in having to get it done in eight because we can't hit this guy," Matheny said. "It's not going to happen. We're going to get him. We will. It's just a matter of time."