Reds left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his first major league appearance Saturday since landing on the disabled list on May 15 due to a mix of shoulder inflammation and general ineffectiveness. And the outing couldn’t have gone any better.
According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the Cuban-born phenom struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning to help the Reds secure a 10-5 interleague victory over the Orioles.
Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters after the game that “Chapman appears to be back,” and it certainly looked that way. The 23-year-old struck out O’s catcher Matt Wieters on three straight pitches to start the inning, hitting 101 mph with a fastball to close out the at-bat. Chapman then carved up the free-swinging Mark Reynolds and light-hitting infielder Robert Andino. He needed just 12 pitches in all, and only three of those deliveries were balls.
Chapman was highly inconsistent on his lengthy 30-day minor league rehab assignment, so to suggest that all his troubles are behind him would be far too reactionary. But the early signs are most definitely promising.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.