The beanball war between the Pirates and Reds has lasted almost a year. Pirates starter Charlie Morton fired the latest salvo Tuesday, plunking Shin-Soo Choo with the first pitch he threw.
Reds starter Mat Latos didn’t retaliate, maybe because he didn’t want to be fined again and also because the Reds already trailed 3-0. After the game, Latos called out the Pirates, saying the league needed to step in and do something about a team that has hit 39 batters, seven more than any team in baseball. He was still talking about it in the clubhouse Wednesday, asking no one in particular when the next game in Pittsburgh was.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday he didn’t think Morton hit Choo on purpose, but he also hadn’t heard about the Pirates’ comments after Monday’s game when the Pirates’ Neil Walker questioned the intent of an Aroldis Chapman fastball that nearly beaned him.
Baker said he didn’t know when the feud would end. He just hopes no one gets hurt.
“I know when it used to be over,” he said. “It used to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and it was over. The umpire would give you both a shot. Now whoever takes the shot first, it’s an automatic warning for the second. I hope nothing’s intentional. We pitch inside, too. Johnny Cueto pitches inside. There’s a correlation between success and pitching inside.”
Baker defended Chapman by saying, “When you’re throwing a missile, can you always direct where the missing is going?”
Phillips struggling: Brandon Phillips is hitting .204 in June after hitting .282 in April and .301 in May. Before he got hit in the forearm by a pitch on June 1 in Pittsburgh, Phillips had two hits in four of the last five games.
Since returning to the lineup June 7, Phillips has one multi-hit game, and going into Wednesday’s game, he had one hit in his last 16 at-bats. He struck out with runners at second and third and one out in the sixth inning Tuesday with the Reds trailing 3-0.
Phillips has walked three times in 54 at-bats this month and struck out nine times.
“He’s just trying too hard more than anything,” Baker said. “He ain’t hurting anymore. He’s just swinging at bad pitches. Nobody’s going to hit swinging at bad pitches. They’re not giving him a lot to hit, even though Jay Bruce is hot behind him. He’s got to be more selective and let them come over the plate. If it’s not over the plate, take your walk.”
Lucky kids: Phillips took a Little League team from Virginia on a tour of the clubhouse Wednesday. The players shook hands with a number of Reds and posed for a photo with Bruce.
Special Ks: With 17 strikeouts Tuesday, the Reds tied a franchise record for a nine-inning game and now lead the National League with 595. They are the only NL team ranked in the top seven in baseball. The Cardinals rank eighth in baseball and second in the NL (571).
Looking ahead: Homer Bailey (4-5, 3.80 ERA) takes the mound for the Reds at 12:35 p.m. today in the final game of the series.
Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 5.40) makes the second start of his career for the Pirates. He allowed three runs in five innings in his debut Saturday against the Dodgers.