JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Aroldis Chapman’s first pitch zoomed in at 99 mph. The Reds closer was just warming up.READ MORE: Highland Park Shooting Suspect Bobby Crimo III Charged With 7 Counts Of First-Degree Murder
The Cuban lefty hit triple digits to all three batters he faced on Tuesday night, a scintillating ninth-inning performance in the All-Star Game that left the home fans wondering how much longer they’re going to see this up close.
Chapman finished off the NL’s 15-strikeout performance, which wasn’t enough for a win. The American League took advantage of several mistake pitches in a 6-3 victory, its third straight in the All-Star Game.
For Chapman, it was bittersweet. The hardest-throwing pitcher in the majors may be topping 100 mph in some other city before the month is over. The out-of-contention Reds are entertaining offers for their closer and starter Johnny Cueto, who is in the final year of his contract and wants more than the club is willing to offer.
“It is something that is part of the game but out of my control,” Chapman said, with trainer Tomas Vera translating. “I won’t worry about it. It is up to the front office what happens.”
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Chapman put the final touches on an all-or-nothing performance by the NL pitching staff. The pitchers were two shy of the All-Star record for strikeouts, but also missed enough times to help the AL pull away.
Jacob deGrom fanned the side in the top of the sixth inning on only 10 pitches. He became the first pitcher in All-Star history to strike out the side with so few pitches.
“I was pretty nervous in the bullpen but when I got on the mound, it went away,” he said. “I was just letting it go. I knew I only had one inning.”
Reds fans had hoped to see Chapman come out of the center field bullpen and blow away the AL to close out a win. Instead, NL manager Bruce Bochy decided to let him pitch the ninth even though the NL trailed 6-2 at the time.
After starting off with that 99 mph fastball, the lefty threw the next one at 101. That started a streak of nine straight pitches hitting at least 100 mph, with two of them topping out at 103. He fanned Brock Holt, Mike Moustakas and Mark Teixeira while players on the AL bench shook their heads and marveled.READ MORE: Recession Concerns Loom, Financial Experts Say Don't Make Emotional Decisions
“We just know he’s got a devastating fastball and he’s an outstanding pitcher,” AL manager Ned Yost said. “We knew how good he was. I kind of felt bad — I wanted to get (Moustakas) in the game, I wanted to get some of those guys in the game, and for them to have to go up and face him … I knew it would be tough.”
Chapman was happy with his inning.
“Everything here was nice, really pretty,” said Chapman, a four-time All-Star. “I think the fans should be happy with what they saw here.”
Everything except the outcome.
Mike Trout opened the game with a solo homer, an opposite-field shot off Zack Greinke that landed in the first row in right field and reminded the NL of what happens when a pitch is left up in the hitter-friendly ballpark. Trout became the first player to win back-to-back All-Star MVP awards.
Prince Fielder drove in a pair of runs with a single and a sacrifice fly, giving the AL all it needed to add to its All-Star winning streak.
In addition to cheering for Chapman’s overpowering fastball, the home fans gave third baseman Todd Frazier a raucous welcome a day after he won the home run derby. Worn out from his 15 minutes of hitting homers the previous night, Frazier went 0 for 3.
“Yeah, just a little tired,” Frazier said. “But I definitely was trying to get a hit and trying to help the team as much as possible. It’s the best pitching in the world. So not everybody’s Mike Trout. It’s tough to do.”
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