CINCINNATI (AP) — Aroldis Chapman let baseball know in his own way that his long journey back from an scary injury was complete: with a 100 mph strike to the game's hottest hitter.
Chapman made his first major league appearance since being hit above the eye by a line drive during spring training, striking out the side in the ninth with his 100 mph fastball to close out the Cincinnati Reds' 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies 4-1 Sunday.
"I am really happy to get out there for the first time," said Chapman through a translator. "They are a good team but I was mentally prepared to face them. Facing those type of hitters make you feel better, than if you just break the ice."
Chapman walked Troy Tulowitzki, who started the day leading the National League with a .405 batting average, but had an easy inning.
Todd Frazier hit his second 400-foot home run in three days to back Homer Bailey's shutdown pitching as Cincinnati won the rubber match of its three-game series with Colorado.
"It was great to see Aroldis. The confidence and determination he had was very cool," said Frazier without a thought to his second home run of the series or his 11-game hitting streak.
Chapman was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd of 33,143. He reached 100 mph with his first pitch and topped out at 102 mph in earning the save. Chapman had been out since being hit above the left eye by a line drive during a spring training game on March 19.
"I was excited to get back but I was even more excited when I heard the fans," said the 26-year old Cuban.
Chapman was hit hard in his in his last two rehab starts in Louisville, allowing eight earned runs in one inning over the two-game stint.
"As much as you want guys to treat those assignments like a normal game, they don't always have the same focus," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The reports we had said he was throwing the ball well. He made some big pitchers to get some good hitters out."
Skip Schumaker drove in two runs and the Reds capitalized on two Colorado throwing errors to send the Rockies to their third loss in four games.
Besides contributing two sacrifice bunts, Bailey (3-2) limited a Colorado offense that produced 11 runs and 16 hits on Saturday night to one run — Charlie Blackmon's ninth homer of the season and second in two games — and four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.
"Homer worked with (pitching coach) Jeff Pico to raise his hands above his head during his wind up," Price said.
Bailey, who signed a $105 million contract in March, struggled through his first seven starts. He began the game with an ERA at 5.36.
"I had to do something," Bailey said. "I had to figure something out. There was nowhere else to go but to be better."