The electric debut of lanky Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman lasted only seven innings into his first day as a Major Leaguer. Reds' skipper Dusty Baker said he would not use him in a tight ballgame.
With millions of goose bumps in Reds' country, ChapMania began on Tuesday night with an 8-3 lead over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Chapman's inning of work seemed faster than than the 103 mph fastball he threw to Brewers shortstop, Craig Counsell. It took only seven strikes in eight pitches—half of which clocked triple digits.
After a quick strikeout of Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy and two measly grounders to short and second it was over. But, holy tomoley, was it ever memorable.
The typically small crowd at Great American Ball Park went berserk when the scoreboard showed that he was warming in the pen.
During Chapman's slow jog toward the mound to start the eighth inning, flashbulbs burned, grown men felt like eight-year-olds, and the ladies swooned like teeny boppers at a Justin Bieber concert.
For a small-market team like the Reds this is big stuff.
The 30-plus million dollar signing of Chapman in January came out of nowhere. Most just assumed he would land in a place where money flows like crude oil from a BP oceanic disaster.
Not the case.
Reds' General Manager Walt Jocketty and principal owner Bob Castellini shocked the baseball world when they brought the 21-year-old to Cincinnati with their whopping contract.
During spring training, Chapman was thought to be a strong candidate for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Ineffective command dashed those hopes and the job ended in the hands of Mike Leake.
Chapman continued to work in the minors as a starter. After some mostly mediocre starts, he was moved to the bullpen.
His control improved with the help of Triple-A pitching coach Teddy Power, and he adapted quickly to his new role.
True or not, in Chapman's final Triple-A game, radar guns registered a 105 mph fastball.
The minor leagues are now a memory for the now 22-year-old.
After the game, Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero said, "Even before he started throwing, they (the crowd) were calling ‘Chapman, Chapman!’ It was amazing."
Speaking through an interpreter, Chapman said, "Of course I was nervous...It's a big thing for me."
For Reds fans that now see their team with a seven-game lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals, those words are serious understatements.
"The Cuban Missile" is the biggest thing to hit Cincinnati since its creation of beanless chili.
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