- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CINCINNATI (AP) - Sometimes, left-hander Aroldis Chapman can’t help but peek.

A murmur will go through the crowd when one of his express-lane fastballs smacks the catcher’s mitt and the estimated speed is shown in triple-digits on the ballpark scoreboard. The 22-year-old Cuban hears the commotion and can’t help but sneak a glance to see what big number has popped up.

“Once in a while, I take a look and yeah, I get surprised and really happy to see what it is,” Chapman said.

From now on, scoreboard watching will take on a little different meaning every time he lets one fly.

Chapman made his big league debut with the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night and pitched a perfect inning. He threw eight pitches, half of them reaching at least 100 mph on the Great American Ball Park board. Two of them clocked in at 102.

He was even faster the second time around.

Pitching the seventh inning on Wednesday night, he hit 103 mph twice while throwing another perfect inning, fanning two on sliders. He threw 11 pitches, six of them clocking triple digits.

Still not his best.

At Triple-A Louisville, he hit 104 and 105 mph on the radar board, turning his fastball into an urban legend even before he arrived in the majors.

Fans love the big numbers _ the crowd roared every time one popped up during the 8-4 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday night. But is there more to it than just the allure?

Sure is. Just ask a hitter.

“The old adage is that speed kills, and it does,” Hall of Famer Joe Morgan said in an interview Wednesday. “Guys who throw hard are the most successful because there’s an intimidation factor in there, too. If a guy throws real hard and the ball gets there quick, there is a slight fear factor.”

The three Brewers who faced Chapman had trouble catching up with his best pitch.

He fanned Jonathan Lucroy by throwing a 98 mph fastball, an 86 mph slider, a 102 mph fastball and an 86 mph slider that tied him up. Craig Counsell got a 100 mph fastball and another at 102 _ he grounded out to shortstop on that one. Pinch-hitter Carlos Gomez also went down on two pitches, a 101 mph fastball and another at 98 mph that he grounded to second base.

“I think he can be a weapon for them because, let’s face it, people that throw that hard, there’s an intimidation factor,” Counsell said. “That’s why closers are usually hard throwers.”

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