Aroldis Chapman began Monday’s game against Pawtucket with a 101 mph fastball.
So what was Tug Hulett thinking in the PawSox dugout?
“I hope that his off-speed stuff isn’t working,” Hulett said with a laugh.
Chapman hit 99 mph on the radar gun three times and threw 10 pitches in the first inning that were 95 mph or faster. But the 22-year-old Cuban defector threw ineffective breaking balls and couldn’t locate any of his pitches as the PawSox scored seven runs in the first three innings in a 7-2 win in Louisville.
“It doesn’t really matter how hard he throws – it’s all about timing,” Hulett said. “If he’s going to throw 100, we’re going to try to time it. If he can’t throw his off-speed stuff for strikes to mess up your timing, you just crank it up. That’s part of the game.”
Chapman walked a career-high 6 batters in 2-plus innings, threw a pair of wild pitches to the same hitter, and only threw 33 of his 72 pitches for strikes. Hulett, who entered the game batting .183, drilled a mid-90’s fastball over the right field wall for a 2-run home run in the 2nd inning, his 4th HR in 165 at-bats.
“It always feels good to hit a home run – it’s hard to do,” Hulett told me. “And it’s really good if you haven’t been doing it in awhile. I’m hoping that maybe I’ve turned a corner. It’s one of those years where I really haven’t made a lot of adjustments, so hopefully I’ll get the ball rolling a little bit while there’s still time.”
There was an impressive 22-year-old left-handed pitcher on Monday – Pawtucket’s Felix Doubront, who picked up the win by allowing one run in five innings while striking out five.
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Prince Felix improved to 2-1 with a 1.08 in four starts with the PawSox. If you combine his Double-A and Triple-A numbers this season, Doubront is 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA.
Chapman fell to 5-3 with a 4.45 ERA, but the PawSox weren’t exactly talking trash after beating him. Perhaps because they are likely to face him again on Saturday when the PawSox open a 4-game series against the Bats at McCoy Stadium.
“You can’t teach 103 or 101 or whatever he was throwing tonight,” Hulett said. “Maybe we caught him on a bad night, I don’t know, but you can see that there’s a reason why he got $30 million dollars. You can make a lot of mistakes throwing that hard and get away with them. He’s got a chance to be something special.”
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On Monday, the Artist Currently Known as Prince celebrated his 52nd birthday.
PawSox manager Torey Lovullo actually had dinner with the pop superstar before he made it big.
“It was before he was ‘Prince’ and before the movie Purple Rain came out,” Lovullo told me. “He was just a young musician and I had a friend whose father was his producer. My friend’s dad was talking about this up-and-coming star and I was over at their house for an Italian dinner and in walked this very small but powerful young man who’s name was Prince. We had dinner and after we were finished, he sat down with his guitar and played for us. At the time I was like 15 or 16 years old and could have cared less about it, but five years later, I was like, ‘I know that guy.’ I saw him way before he was a superstar – that was pretty special.”
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After splitting a 4-game series in Louisville, the PawSox open a 4-game set in Indianapolis on Tuesday night at 7:05.
I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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