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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pirates Rock Rookie As Morton Salts Reds Wounds

Rookie Keyvius Sampson had a perfect start to his Major League career, retiring the first 10 batters he faced, including seven in a row in his first start on Sunday..

Sampson pitched five innings, allowing just three hits and a walk but took the loss 3-0.

Sampson was recalled Thursday when Nate Adcock went on the disabled list and made his debut in the Reds' 15-5 win that night. He retired all three batters he faced, striking out two of them.

Sampson struck out four of the first seven batters in his first Major League start, in which he joined the Reds' "Kiddie Korp" of five rookie starters.

"I pitched Thursday and that took some of the nervousness away," Sampson said. "I was still nervous but I just told myself to keep the ball down. I have a reputation of walking guys. I wanted to attack. I walked a couple but they weren't bad walks because there was a base open. I just have to make sure when I pitch outside I get it outside. That one inning the ball came back over the plate a couple times."

Sean Rodriguez doubled as if to explain that Sampson wasn't in Kansas anymore or Louisville or his native Gainsville.  "This is the big leagues," the hit screamed.  Sampson recovered to fan Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton.  Gregroy Polanco, however, coaxed a walk, then Starling Marte doubled to score both runners.
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Neil Walker drilled a pitch to right centerfield that rolled back towards the infield. Walker stopped at third but an umpire's review took 1:34 to determine the ball hit beyond the wall and bounced back for Walker's 10th home run.

Morton gave up singles to Ivan De Jesus Jr., who was subbing for Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips in the third inning but nothing came of the mini rally.  Morton threw seven shutout innings and gave up five hits but four were singles. Morton didn't walk anyone and struck out seven.

Tempers flared in the bottom of the eighth Tony Watson drilled Phillips with one out in the eighth after Andrew McCutchen was hit in the middle of the back by Pedro Villarreal. Homeplate umpire D.J. Reyburn escorted McCutchen to first and warned Watson.

"I've been here six years," Bryan Price said. "A lot of ours guys get hit. A lot of their guys get hit. There is always something in the air. The constant is we both pitch inside. It speaks to the success of our pitching staffs. When you pitch inside guys are going to get hit. There is a lot of testosterone. It's just baseball."


The two teams have had a history of hit batters and seemingly McCutchen gets hit at least once in Cincinnati every year.

Votto led the charge off the bench and Marlon Byrd had harsh words with Joe Blanton, Sean Rodriguez and Francisco during the show of forces between the teams with both benches and bullpens joining the fray.

Byrd was hit by Blanton on Saturday night.

"I was upset last night," Byrd said. "I don't like balls coming at my head. I got hit. McCutchen got hit. I know he didn't like it. My teammate got hit and I was going out to support him."

Sean Rodriguez was ejected along with Byrd and Votto. Byrd was hit by Joe Blanton on Saturday. The two were nose to nose during the discussion.

"I have no problem with guys going out to protect their teammates," said Price even though Votto was unavailable to pinch hit. "At some point, the umpires have to take control. It's the environment we're in. There is a lot of suspicion. This was brewing it was bound to happen when you play each other 18 or 19 times a year."

Mark Melancon entered in the ninth, trying to earn his 32nd straight save. His last blown save was on April 21 against the Cubs.

Jay Bruce greeted Melancon with a double. Billy Hamilton grounded out to Melancon as a pinch hitter. Melancon hit Tucker Barnhart with a high and tight pitch and was immediately ejected by Reyburn. Pirate manager Clint Hurdle was also ejected because of the eighth inning warning.

Joakim Soria replaced Melancon and earned his first save as a Pirate.

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