Aroldis Chapman throwing a 99-mph fastball is nothing new, but that pitch sailing wide of the catcher and ripping through the protective netting behind home plate is a scary thought for the people paying big bucks for those seats.
That’s exactly what happened last night at Wrigley Field, although luckily no one was sitting directly behind the plate and (as shown by Chris Calo’s screen shot) the shredded netting was the only thing harmed by Chapman’s heat.
Chapman reined in his fastball enough to strike out two batters in a scoreless inning against the Cubs, giving him a 1.40 ERA and ridiculous 34 strikeouts in 19 innings since returning from the disabled list.
As for avoiding future incidents of the protective netting not being able to protect against Chapman’s fastball, I suppose all the ballparks could double-up with a second layer just to be safe. Or maybe it was an isolated incident in which the Wrigley Field netting already had a slight tear that made it weaker than usual. After all, while Chapman has MLB’s fastest fastball last night was hardly the first baseball–whether thrown or fouled back–to make contact with the netting traveling in the high-90s.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: