His music sounded and the six-foot, four-inch closer hustled from the bullpen to the mound with every fan in the ballpark on their feet. Aroldis Chapman, who had missed eight weeks after being hit in the face with a line drive during Spring Training, was back in action for the Cincinnati Reds – and he didn't disappoint.
The fireball closer consistently hit triple digits on his save to striking out the side and collecting his first save in his 2014 season debut as the Reds downed Colorado 4-1 and took two of three from the red-hot Rockies.
Luckily for Chapman, starter Homer Bailey gave up a single run, a solo home run to Charlie Blackmon, over seven and a third innings while striking out six to give him the save opportunity. Bailey picked up his third win of the season. Throughout the game announcers mentioned the difference in Bailey's delivery.
"I needed something to get my timing back," Bailey said. "I had nowhere else to go but better. The next step was to start throwing left-handed."
The offense, which struggled to get much production on Saturday, gave Bailey an early lead. Leading off the bottom of the first inning, Billy Hamilton laid down a bunt but an errant throw helped the speedster reach third. Skip Schumaker then grounded out to second which gave plenty of time for Hamilton to sprint home for an early 1-0 lead.
Cincinnati added another run in the third when Schumaker, who starter in place of Jay Bruce, singled up the middle to score Ramon Santiago.
Colorado cut the lead in half the following inning when Charlie Blackmon launched a solo shot, his ninth, on a 2-2 knuckle curve from Bailey.
But Cincinnati pushed the lead back to two in the bottom half of the fourth when Todd Frazier smacked a solo home run of his own, his seventh this season, to straight away center field.
Bailey's big inning cam in the top half of the fifth inning. After walking the leadoff batter, Michael McKenry lined a ground-rule doubled down the left field line putting runners on second and third with no out. Bailey hunkered down and struck out the next two batters before getting Blackmon to pop out in foul territory.
"To make that kind of adjustment over the course of one start is very impressive," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Bailey.
"I was really happy. I had a lot of emotion going," Chapman said through translator Tomas Veras.
Cincinnati took two of three from one of the best teams in baseball. Following a day off, the Reds will be back in action on Tuesday as they start a series against the San Diego Padres.
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