Sampson stands up during stand-in assignment

By HAL McCOY

CINCINNATI — John Travolta is in Cincinnati filming a movie and spent Saturday night at Great American Ball Park. Was it a prelude to a remake of his movie ‘Saturday Night Fever?’

It was Saturday night and it was feverishly hot, but it wasn’t a memorable night for baseball. A movie in an air-conditioned theatre was a better option.

The game was more like ‘Pulp Fiction.’

The Cincinnati Reds, one of baseball’s worst teams, was playing one of baseball’s even worse teams, a team with the ugliest uniforms in baseball history, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Somebody needs to slice and dice Arizona’s road jerseys the way Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale did his team’s throwback jerseys before Saturday’s game with the Tigers, turning those throwbacks into throwaways.

AFTER A DREARY AND DRAGGED-OUT first inning in Great American Ball Park that took 38 minutes and used up 61 pitches, the Reds prevailed, 6-1, their sixth win in eight games since the All-Star break.

Arizona scored its only run on two of its four hits for the night in the first inning. Then the Reds scored three unearned runs in the first after third baseman Jake Lamb made a two-out throwing error and the Reds scored three more in the third on Jay Bruce’s three-run home run, his 20th home run that extended his RBI total to 69.

Keyvius Sampson, a one-start fill-in pitcher, held the Diamondbacks to one run and four hits over 4 1/3 innings, not enough innings to qualify for the win. He left after 88 pitches, drained of all energy. Michael Lorenz
replaced him and pitched 2 2/3 perfect innings with two strikeouts and was awarded the victory.

Manager Bryan Price removed Sampson after he walked Jean Segura with one out in the fifth and threw a high ball one to Michael Bourn.

“He muscled up and threw a pitch in the dirt (to walk Segura) and the next pitch was an elevation pitch and I said, ‘You know what, we really wanted to keep him in the neighborhood of 85 pitches,’” said Price. “He was facing Bourn and the probability of facing Paul Goldschmidt — the terrain was a possibility of creating a problem and he had done such a fine job I’d hate to see it unravel.”

SAMPSON WANTED TO STICK around, get two more outs to qualify for a victory, but his fuel tank was on ‘E.’

“After that first inning (one run, 27 pitches), I told myself, ‘You have to figure out a way to eat up more innings,’” said Sampson. “I got comfortable and started locating my pitches. I tried to plead my case to the skipper to stay in, but I was tired, man. And he said, ‘You gave us all you had, even more than we asked for.’ I wanted the ‘w,’ but the team got the ‘w’ and that’s more important.”

Sampson, a 25-year-old right hander whose job description is long relief, is holding the spot right now reserved for the return of Homer Bailey.

“Until we sign off on Homer, until we get to that point where that slot comes up again if Homer is not ready there is no reason to think that Keyvius couldn’t make it,” said Price. “He did a really nice job and did nothing to discourage me from using him in this role again.

“It was good for him to perform, get the reps, pitch in a winning game,” Price added. “It was an opportunity for him and he took advantage of it. He had a long first inning, but he began throwing his pitches over the plate and down. He had the full four-pitch complement. Everything was in play for him today.”

THERE WAS SOME PRE-GAME histrionics and veiled threats before the game that never materialized. The Diamondbacks were upset after Friday nights game when leadoff hitter Jean Segura was hit by a pitch on the at bat after he hit a home run off Dan Straily.

In fact, the D-Backs had a pre-game meeting about it.

“Well we talked about it,” said Arizona manager Chip Hale said before the game. “First of all Segura stands very close to the plate. He’s going to get hit at times. It just happening after he hits home runs. So that doesn’t look good. It doesn’t look good for us. It doesn’t look good for the other pitcher. It’s very frustrating.

“And then for the umpire to give a warning, it kind of takes our chance away to sort of show Jean that we’re behind him. So, you know, we have to protect our teammates,” Hale added. “We talked about it with our pitchers. We hope that these pitchers understand that if they’re going to continue to hit our players (on purpose) there is going to be some retribution at some point.”

STRAILY DENIED THAT HE intentionally hit Segura when the Reds led by only 3-2.

“It was a get-me-over fastball that just got on him,” said Straily. “Does he thinks that I really want him on first base in a one-run ballgame with those three coming up (Michael Bourn, Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb)? To me it seems like a caught in the moment. He just reacted to it. I get it, but it was the last thing on my mind.”

The closest thing to an ‘incident’ was in the bottom of the first when Arizona starter Robbie Ray threw a breaking pitch over Votto’s head for a wild pitch while the Reds were in the process of scoring three runs. There was no reaction from the Reds.

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