Aroldis Chapman of the Reds fires a pitch in the ninth inning against the American League during the 86th MLB All-Star Game. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Cuban Missile Aroldis Chapman blows away Brock Holt, AL stars in remarkable show

Mike Petraglia
July 14, 2015 - 9:35 pm
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CINCINNATI -- The Cuban Missile was deadly Tuesday night. In the ninth inning of the American League's 6-3 win over the National League at Great American Ball Park, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman showed why he is one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, firing 14 pitches, averaging just over 101 mph. Of the 14 pitches he threw, only two were below the century mark. He struck out the side in the ninth, starting out with Brock Holt, followed by Kansas City's Mike Moustakas and capped off by a flame-throwing performance against New York Yankee Mark Teixeira. "I feel really happy. I can'€™t describe it but I feel like I had so much fun," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I want to do this. I'€™m happy I threw the ninth. I had a chance to show the fans and everybody else what they'€™re used to seeing every night, pitching the way I do." The opposing batters may not have felt the same way, at least not Holt, who was making his first career All-Star appearance in the batter's box. "As soon as I made the team, I kind of figured I would face Chapman," Holt said. "I was trying to get mentally prepared for that about a week ago. It still didn't help me out. I knew I would probably get an at-bat late and he would be throwing late. He's not fun to face. You want to face the best and he's one of them. It was fun." Chapman's first pitch of the night was a warm-up at 99 mph for strike one. Then came pitches of 101 (ball), 100 (swing and a miss), 101 (ball) and finally 101 (swing and a miss). "He still brings the heat," Holt said. "Last year, I foul-tipped a ball. I took a step backwards this time. Didn't even make contact but it's fun. It's fun facing him. He's one of the best closers in the game. He wanted to light up the radar gun in front of the home fans." Certainly Holt shouldn't feel embarrassed. Moustakas went like this: 102 (swing and miss), 103 (foul ball), 102 (ball) and 103 (swing and a miss). Then, Teixeira: 102 (ball), 100 (foul back), 98 (ball), 100 (foul) and 102 (swing and a miss). "That was fun," an amazed Teixeira marveled. "One hundred and two. I'm not sure if I've ever faced 102. I did my best, fouled off a couple of pitches. That was a fun at-bat, fun at-bat because we were winning the game. If we were losing the game, it wouldn't have been a fun at-bat." What made it fun? "Because the guy is throwing 102 miles an hour and he's just coming right at you. It's power versus power and pitchers usually win that battle. But I did my best. The first one is the best one I had, the best one I had to hit. But since it was the first one, I was just a little bit off. I knew I might not get another one over the plate because he's nasty." Does 102 feel different? "It does," Teixeira said. "I think once you get into 100, it just feels different and there's not many guys that can do it." Teixeira even gazed at the scoreboard in left-center where the radar flashed the amazing numbers. "Absolutely. After every pitch, after every pitch. You can see me. Watch the at-bat," Teixeira said. "I was peeking after every pitch. That's fun. That's what All-Star games are about. I'm glad he had a chance to pitch in front of his home fans. If we're losing the game, that wouldn't have been a fun at-bat because we go down 1-2-3. But because we're winning the game, I think we all enjoyed it."