CLEVELAND - With a couple scorching fastballs, Reds' closer Aroldis Chapman put some sizzle into the Battle of Ohio.
On the first pitch of Nick Swisher's ninth inning at-bat, Chapman sailed a 100 MPH fastball over his catcher's head to the backstop, invoking memories of Randy Johnson and John Kruk at the 1993 All-Star Game. Chapman's second high heater forced Swisher to duck away, narrowly missing his head.
A visibly unhappy Swisher could be seen on TV mouthing ‘don't do that' - a natural reaction after an object at triple-digit speed was just inches away from striking your head. Swisher's Indians teammates were on the top step of the dugout, ready to charge Chapman, Indians' play-by-play Tom Hamilton screamed on the team's radio broadcast.
After the game, both teams played it relatively cool. Swisher said it wasn't exactly the best thing. Reds' manager Dusty Baker said everyone overreacted but the ump.
Others were not so diplomatic.
Ask Reds fans and Chapman doesn't speak English, how could he possibly have been trying to stir something up with Swisher? Indians fans will tell you Chapman was obviously headhunting, just watch the clip.
But it was Hamilton who may have been the most riled up, holding nothing back on the airwaves.
"What you'd love to see Swisher do here is knock it right off the temple of Chapman and see how much fun it is to have a ball coming at your head. That is bush league," Hamilton said after the incident.
"There will be other games and there will be Reds hitters that will pay the price for the stunt of Aroldis Chapman," Hamilton continued.
The annual matchup of the state's northern and southern clubs is usually a spirited but fun battle for pride and bragging rights. Not so much Monday.
"I don't know what has got into Aroldis Chapman but he was set and ready to meet Nick Swisher face to face, walking right at him as he made his turn coming over the infield," Jeff Brantley said on the Reds' radio broadcast.
"This isn't over yet. I'll guarantee you one thing. Tito Francona will make sure that this is settled on the field - and then the Reds players can go to Chapman and say ‘Thanks,'" Hamilton said. "Maybe you get away with that in Cuba."
Chapman closed out the game but Hamilton was not done yet, putting a punctuation mark on the day during the postgame.
"If I were Joey Votto, I'm probably not going to sleep a whole lot tonight," Hamilton opined, predicting retaliation from the Indians.
Reds' radio play-by-play man Marty Brennaman struck a much different chord.
"Rarely do players on a ball club use any logic at all. There's no way in the world Aroldis Chapman is throwing at Nick Swisher. He has no reason to...there's no history between the two," Brennaman said.
"I don't know that that had anything to do with anything other than the fact that the ball just got away from Chapman," Brantley added in the Reds' postgame show. "I think anytime you get close to somebody's noggin, the team that you're on, more times than not, is not gonna be real happy about it. It's just the way it's always been and always will be."
The two teams are back at it for three more games this week and either way you come down on the incident, one thing is certain - the 2013 Ohio Cup just got a whole lot more interesting.
What do you think - high heat or headhunting? Chime in with a comment below.