CINCINNATI -- Aroldis Chapman had a harrowing experience with a comebacker in Spring Training that left him with a fractured bone above his left eye that required insertion of a metal plate to provide stability to the area.
But even that didn't stop him from marching toward history this season. In the ninth inning of Thursday's 12-inning, 6-4 loss to the Cubs, Chapman recorded a strikeout of the first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano, extending his streak of consecutive relief appearances with a strikeout to 39, dating back to Aug. 21, 2013.
Chapman's feat ties Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, whose streak lasted from June 1 to Oct. 2, 1977, as the longest streak of appearances with a strikeout by a reliever since 1900.
"I didn't know," Chapman said of the record through interpreter Tomas Vera. "I feel happy because I put in a lot of work. The way things are going right now, I feel happy because I see the result of the effort that I put in. So knowing about this record and all the stuff that is happening right now, I feel really happy."
Chapman went on to strike out Nate Schierholtz before retiring the side. During his streak, Chapman has pitched 41 innings over which he's compiled 80 strikeouts.
"It's what he does. He's special in many ways," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The slider and the changeup have really increased his opportunity to strike guys out beyond coming in and throwing 100 mph. And it seems like every time he shows up, he's throwing 100 mph. It's been a great year for him. Opponents have only gotten to him a couple of times; he's almost flawless."
On his way to the top of the list, Chapman surpassed Jeff Montgomery (32 straight games from June 18 to Sept. 5, 1989) and Eric Gagne (35 games from July 18, 2003 to April 10, 2004).
By comparison, Montgomery tallied 59 punch-outs during his run, while Gagne recorded 65.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.