Reds closer Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning last night against the Pirates to finish off his 20th save of the season. And he made some history in the process.
Chapman now holds the MLB record with at least one strikeout in 40 consecutive relief appearances. The streak dates back to last season. The previous record was held by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who went 39 consecutive appearances with a strikeout in 1977. Former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne had 35 straight appearances with a strikeout from 2003-2014. Chapman is also fourth on the list, as he went 34 consecutive appearances with a strikeout from 2011-2012. But now he’s the top dog.
Chapman got a late start on the season after he was hit in the face by a comebacker during spring training, but he has been nothing short of sensational since returning. Averaging 100 mph (!) on his fastball, he has a 2.20 ERA over 28 2/3 innings to go along with a 57/10 K/BB ratio. Just to put things in perspective, Chapman has faced 108 batters this season. He has struck out 52.8 percent of them. That’s insane.
Because of course he did.
It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt. The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.
Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.
The other night, Blue Jays reliever Joaquin Benoit needed help getting off the field after the second benches-clearing incident with the Yankees. It was later revealed that Benoit tore a calf muscle during the fracas, ending his season.
Yesterday he pointed the finger at just about everyone else for the incidents like the one that led to his injury. Hitters specifically. From The Star:
“I believe as pitchers we’re entitled to use the whole plate and pitch in if that’s the way we’re going to succeed,” Benoit said. “I believe that right now baseball is taking things so far that in some situations most hitters believe that they can’t be brushed out. Some teams take it personally.”
That “take it personally” line is interesting coming from Benoit as, in this instance, it seemed pretty clear that the whole plunking exchange which led to his injury started because Josh Donaldson took an inside pitch that did not seem to be a purpose pitch at all, too personally.
Did Benoit take a veiled swipe at his teammate here? If so, that’s pretty notable. If not it’s notable in another way, right? As it suggests that Benoit believes it’s OK for his teammates to take issue with inside pitches but anyone else who does is part of the problem?
Which is it, Joaquin?