Hasty exit for Morrow

Brandon Morrow seems somewhat perplexed as he talks with catcher Jose Molina on Friday at Yankee...

Brandon Morrow seems somewhat perplexed as he talks with catcher Jose Molina on Friday at Yankee Stadium. Morrow, making his final start of the season, was rocked for five runs in three innings as the Yankees went on to win 7-3. (Reuters)

Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:58 PM ET

NEW YORK — New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was making his drive to “the Stadium” in the Bronx on Friday morning.

“I knew Brandon Morrow was going to be shut down and was on an innings count, I was thinking: ‘I wonder if it’s only two or three innings?’ ” Cashman said before Friday’s game.

The Jays didn’t have a set innings count scheduled for Morrow going into his 26th and final start of the year.

Morrow started the game with an 84 m.p.h fastball to Brett Gardner and lasted only three innings, allowing five runs in a 7-3 Toronto loss to the Yanks before 44,739 fans at Yankee Stadium.

The spring ended with Morrow pitching against triple-A Las Vegas hitters to test his shoulder at the Bobby Mattick complex in his first start in 16 days. At the time, it was doubtful he’d make his first start April 9 in the Jays’ fourth game of the season.

Throw out Friday’s early season ending for Morrow and it was a season in which:

— The GM of the defending World Series champion Yanks was hoping an innings-pitched limit would see Morrow leave early.

— Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon says Monday: “We’ve been no-hit three times this season, by Dallas Braden, Edwin Jackson and Mark Buerhle and the guy with the most electric stuff was Brandon Morrow.”

The right-hander’s 17-strikeout performance impressed Maddon as Morrow lost his no-hit bid with two out in the ninth.

This winter, how will Morrow look back on his 2010 season, his first full year in a starting rotation?

“It was outstanding, I made every start,” said Morrow, hours after his final pitch, ending his season at 1461/3 innings

“They pushed me back a few starts, but I knew I wasn’t going to jump to 200 innings from where I was a year ago.”

In 2009, Morrow was with the Seattle Mariners pitching 124 2/3 innings with the M’s (692/3, including nine starts) and triple-A Tacoma (55).

Two days before Christmas, general manager Alex Anthopoulos dealt reliever Brandon League and minor-league outfielder Johermyn Chavez for Morrow.

Manager Cito Gaston disliked pitchers having their own catching caddie. It has been this way since 1989. Yet, for Morrow and Jose Molina he make an exception.

“I think it was because he liked what he saw,” Morrow said. “After May, I had a good season. Jose knows when to call off-speed pitches, always gives you confidence in what you are throwing, takes the pressure off their running game.

“He calms you down and can fire you up.”

And Molina also has the gift top make his starter laugh.

“As a catcher I hate to be associated with one pitcher,” Molina said. “I work hard for all our pitchers. I didn’t do anything for (Morrow). He had the ball on the mound. I did my job, but don’t give me credit. He has good ears.”

In his first 11 starts through the end of May, Morrow was 6-5 with a 6.00 ERA, walking 34 and striking out 66 in 57 innings.

The rest of the way he was 6-3, with a 3.65 ERA, walking 34 and striking out 112 in 891/3 innings.

In his finale, Morrow looked winded at the finish line: Decreased velocity, six hits and five walks in three innings.

“His location was off, his velocity was down starting with the first pitch and he didn’t have much control,” Gaston said.

That was Friday.

The 2010 season?

“The only time he has struggled was when we pushed him back to seven or eight days between starts,” Gaston said. “This was on six days rest.”

Morrow will have all winter until he starts the second or third game of next season.

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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