Tough luck bites Chapman in playoff debut
Reds phenom shows stuff, but strange seventh mars outing
PHILADELPHIA -- Two-centuries-plus after Philadelphia gave us electricity, with a kite-flying Ben Franklin, Aroldis Chapman gave it back with his kinetic left arm.But the final shock belonged to the Phillies, who ambushed him for a go-ahead rally in the seventh that led to a 7-4 victory and a 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series. Cincinnati's electric rookie from Cuba made his postseason debut on the national stage of the NLDS on Friday night, entering Game 2 in the seventh inning to protect the Reds' one-run lead over the Phillies. "We were curious to see triple digits on the board -- if that was going to happen or not," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said. "He sure delivered. He has an incredible fastball, that's for sure. It was fun to watch. He is going to have a lot of success in this game."
To add charm to the occasion, Chapman came on after Jose Conteras, his boyhood idol growing up in Cuba, had retired the Reds in order in the top of the seventh.With the Reds clinging to a 4-3 lead, Chapman made the long walk from the bullpen beyond center field at the start of the seventh to face the heart of the Philadelphia lineup. His first pitch to Chase Utley, who had singled for two runs his previous time up in the fifth inning, registered 100 mph on the radar, drawing gasps from the 46,511 in Citizens Bank Park. Chapman next set up Utley with an 87-mph slider, but then clipped him with a 101-mph fastball. Replays showed the ball may have missed Utley. "My catcher didn't say anything, and as it turned out, I heard that it didn't hit him," said Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Chapman definitely seconded that sentiment."I don't think at any time that the ball hit him," the lefty said through interpreter Tomas Vera. Utley tried to sell the contact by rubbing his hand, and it worked enough to be awarded first base. If it really hit him, you can bet it would have hurt a lot more. Asked if the Chapman pitch really hit him, Utley didn't exactly deliver his reply with confidence. "It was pretty close," Utley said. "I'm not sure." Ryan Howard fanned on three straight fastballs -- 100, 99, 101. Jayson Werth, after having a 100-mph fastball bust his bat, used the replacement stick to hit a grounder to third. Third baseman Scott Rolen's throw to second was too late to get Utley on a close play, creating a two-on jam for Chapman with only one away. The jam ate up Chapman when Jimmy Rollins followed with a line drive to right field on which Jay Bruce whiffed for an error. It wasn't for lack of effort.
"Well, you could tell it was in the lights, because Jay's played Golden Glove outfield," said Baker, "and he didn't come close to catching that ball."
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips' error on the relay from Bruce allowed a second run to score, as Utley and Werth both crossed the plate, giving the Phillies a 5-4 lead.
"I think I had control of the game," Chapman said. "I always think I have control of the game. Things didn't work out the way I want."The Phillies tacked on another run on Carlos Ruiz's groundout to make it 6-4. Mike Sweeney followed with a single, ending Chapman's night with the young lefty having given up three runs -- none earned -- on two hits and a hit batsman. "Howie gave me a great scouting report," Sweeney said. "[He said], 'He is throwing 100 and get ready for the heater. You can see it.' After I got the hit, I said thanks to Howie."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.