Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman was too fast to hit in his big league debut, throwing 102 mph during one perfect inning, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4 on Tuesday night, wrapping up the best August by any team in the majors.
Chapman joined the Reds’ bullpen and matched the hype his first time out, throwing four pitches clocked at 100 mph or better. The Reds called up the hard-throwing lefty, hoping he can add some sizzle to their September — and beyond.
The Reds have pulled away from second-place St. Louis in the NL Central by going 19-8 in August, the best mark in the majors.
Joey Votto drove in three runs with a pair of doubles off Yovani Gallardo (11- 7), hearing “MVP!” chants each time he reached. Sam LeCure (2-4) pitched two innings in relief of Aaron Harang, who struggled in his return from back spasms.
From the start, the Reds had their attention on September.
They called up Chapman from the minors before the game, making him eligible for postseason play. Chapman’s fastball has been clocked as high as 105 mph in the minors, making him something of an urban legend before he even reached a major league mound.
Fans started snapping pictures when he took off his jacket and started warming up after the seventh-inning stretch. The crowd cheered when Chapman — wearing No. 54 — was shown on the videoboard.
Chapman got a standing ovation from the crowd of only 19,218 when he jogged out of the bullpen to pitch the top of the eighth with the Reds leading 8-3. Fans let out a collective “ooh” after each high-velocity warmup throw.
His first pitch to Jonathan Lucroy registered 98 mph, and the third one hit 102 mph, drawing a loud cheer. Chapman made quick work of the three batters he faced — a strikeout by Lucroy on an 86 mph slider and two weak ground balls by Craig Counsell and pinch-hitter Carlos Gomez. Half of his eight pitches reached triple digits, topping out at 102.