To say what Adrian Sampson did for the Curve this season was a surprise would be a big understatement.
Shocking would be more appropriate.
Sampson had a 5.14 ERA last year at Single-A Bradenton. He was pedestrian at best, and none of his pitching numbers indicated he would have much success in Double-A.
The right-hander not only did succeed, he became one of the best pitchers in Curve history.
Sampson earned a much-deserved promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, leaving Altoona with a 10-5 record and 2.55 ERA that ranks second in the Eastern League. He turned in the best performance ever by a Curve pitcher July 18 when he carried a no-hitter for 8 1/3 innings against Bowie before finishing with a one-hit shutout.
Sampson also had this incredibly rare accomplishment: He sliced his Single-A ERA by more than half in Double-A, which is almost unheard of because the jump to this level is considered the most difficult in the minor leagues.
Tonight: Trenton at Altoona
Pitchers: Curve LHP Jhonathan Ramos (4-5, 4.26) vs. Thunder RHP Jairo Heredia (4-1, 3.48)
Covering the bases: Page B3
Sampson, who joined the Indy club in Toledo on Tuesday, didn't return a message from the Mirror seeking comment.
His former teammates played deep into the night against Trenton at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The game was halted by rain at 8:40 p.m. and didn't resume for 2 hours, 18 minutes, at 10:58. The Curve scored a run in the bottom of the ninth on a squeeze bunt to win, 3-2.
Sampson spent last season working on his changeup, but he didn't have it down yet and was hit hard. He allowed 177 hits in 140 innings last year, with opposing batters tagging him for a .310 average.
Sampson figured out the changeup this year and was light years better with the Curve. He gave up only 125 hits in 148 innings and held hitters to a .229 average, a staggering 81 points lower than his figure at Single-A.
Sampson is tied for the EL lead with 24 starts, only one of which was bad. He gave up seven runs in 6 1/3 innings against Binghamton on June 27, which could have signaled the start of a midseason decline.
Sampson, though, bounced right back and allowed just one run in six innings his next time out and was superb the rest of the way for the Curve. He gave up just eight earned runs in 42 innings (1.71 ERA) over his final eight Double-A starts.
Or, put another way, his ERA in those final seven Double-A outings was one-third of the big number he posted last season in Single-A.
Sampson is set to make his Triple-A debut Thursday for Indy.
SUBHD: How they scored
Top 6th: Austin solo homer (0-1).
Bottom 6th: Maggi walked, scored on Diaz bases-loaded walk (1-1); Bell walked, scored on Broxton single (2-1).
Top 7th: Castillo singled, scored on Cunningham error (2-2).