Morrow shuts down Reds
By Ken Fidlin, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow delivers a pitch to the Reds in Cincinnati last night. Morrow pitched 62/3 shutout innings to earn his third win of the season. (Reuters)
CINCINNATI -- Jose Molina doesn't like to talk about hitting. Ask him about his offence and he'll mumble something about looking after his pitching staff.
And that he does, just about as well as anybody. He is Brandon Morrow's security blanket behind the plate and Saturday night he once again brought out the best Morrow has to offer, as the righthander tossed 62/3 strong innings in a 4-0 Blue jay victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Through six full innings Morrow was the picture of efficiency, allowing just four hits without a walk. To that point, only one baserunner advanced past first base.
"I mixed speeds a lot better," Morrow said. "I got quite a few ground balls that way. It was one of my better ones, especially as far as pitch selection goes. It was the best game I've had as far as off-speed command goes."
In the seventh, a single, a hit batsman and a walk earned him an early shower but reliever Jason Frasor got out of the jam unscathed, inducing a fly ball to end the inning.
Molina is like an extra pitching coach behind the plate and he gets unconditional respect from whoever is on the mound, but there's no doubt he and Morrow have some special chemistry.
"Jose always calls a good game, always works hard back there," Morrow said. "He'll come out to the mound in situations and maybe plan ahead. He has a way of dictating the tempo of the game when things start to creep up on you."
But Molina couldn't hide behind his catcher's mask this night. He went 2-for-2 with a long double and an even longer home run off Cincinnati starter Edinson Volquez and finds himself with a .304 batting average.
"Jose had a big night behind the plate and at the plate," manager John Farrell said.
The Blue Jays pecked away at Volquez for a run in the third, two more in the fifth and another in the fifth to stake Morrow to a 4-0 advantage.
Yunel Escobar doubled to lead off the third inning and came around to score when Volquez threw Corey Patterson's sacrifice bunt attempt into right field.
Molina led off the fourth with a massive 437-foot homer to left and then Rajai Davis, who came into the game in a 3-for-40 slump, ripped a triple to the wall in left-centre. He scored on Jayson Nix's line-drive sacrifice fly that left fielder Chris Heisey snared with a diving catch.
In the fifth, Patterson led off with a double that Heisey probably should have caught in left. Jose Bautista promptly brought Patterson around to score with a single into centre.
Meanwhile, Morrow was cruising. He scattered four hits over the first six innings, needing just 78 pitches to get himself into the seventh inning before the Reds finally got something going.
"I was able to manage my pitch count a little better by using my two-seam fastball to get those ground balls," said Morrow. "It really helped to get lot of first-pitch strikes."
With his 101st pitch of the game, Morrow walked pinch-hitter Fred Lewis to load the bases. Frasor came in and threw two pitches, getting Edgar Renteria to line out to Bautista in right.
Jon Rauch then worked a perfect eighth and a nervous ninth -- allowing two baserunners -- to preserve the shutout.
Doc's On Tap
It appears Roy Halladay is lined up to pitch for the Phillies in Toronto against the Blue Jays on either Friday, July 1 or Saturday, July 2. Halladay's next two starts are on June 21 and 26. With an off-day on the 27th, Phils could start Halladay in Toronto on July 1 on normal rest, or give him an extra day off and pitch him on July 2.