Morrow comes back to haunt Mariners
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
|Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow pitches against the Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash., Aug. 17, 2011. (MARCUS DONNER/Reuters)
SEATTLE - Twenty months ago, the Seattle Mariners traded Brandon Morrow to the Toronto Blue Jays. A deal done in part because Seattle didn’t see him as a No. 1 or No. 2 starting pitcher.
The Mariners also needed bullpen help and were happy enough to take reliever Brandon League off Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ hands.
Wednesday, Morrow made his first start at Safeco Field since he was dealt to the Jays. In the meantime, he’s been building a mound of evidence to dispute the Mariners’ previous assessment of him.
If they needed more proof, Morrow provided it in a 5-1 Toronto victory that sealed a 2-1 edge for the Jays in this three-game series.
Morrow held Seattle to just three base hits over six innings while striking out 12. Two of those hits came back-to-back in the sixth to produce the only Mariners run of the night. In that same inning, Morrow pitched out of a jam of his own making by striking out the side, including Trayvon Robinson with the bases loaded and two out.
“It’s fun to come back here and I enjoyed my three days in the city. I really liked Seattle when I was here. I thought I was going to have a good game when they announced it was diabetes awareness night,” said Morrow, who is a diabetic himself.
But the biggest carrot for Morrow was a chance to pitch in Seattle against his old team.
“There was that extra incentive, that little bit of extra adrenaline, but I settled in early and just pitched my game,” he said. “My fastball location was what carried me and I was throwing some good bullets.”
Any hard feelings he harbored have long since evaporated.
“I think I’m a better pitcher now than I was when I was here but I don’t really want to get into all that,” he said. “I was sad when I had to leave Seattle but everything has worked out for the best.”
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays jumped all over Seattle starter Blake Beavan for three home runs that accounted for all of Toronto's runs. Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus hit solos in the second and fourth, respectively, and Adam Lind drilled an opposite-field three-run shot in the third.
Morrow didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked No. 9 hitter Jack Wilson with two outs in the third. He didn’t allow a base hit until Mike Carp singled with two out in the fourth. At one point, he struck out five Mariners in succession, hitting 98 mph on the radar gun with his fastball.
“He was extremely powerful and he was throwing four pitches for strikes with just an explosive fastball,” said Jays manager John Farrell. “To think where he’s come in less than two years time and settled into a role here and has been getting consistent outings is a tribute to his hard work.”
With one out in the sixth, Ichiro Suzuki beat out an infield hit, then went to second on a wild pitch. He came home on Franklin Gutierrez’s double to centre.
Jays relievers Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen and Frank Francisco escorted that four-run lead to the finish line, each working a scoreless inning.
Litsch came out of the bullpen in the seventh. A walk and a couple of errors put him in a jam, but he got out of it with a double-play ball off the bat of Ichiro.
Encarnacion set the tone for the longball fest with his 12th of the season to lead off the second inning. Lind delivered the big blow with two out in the top of the third, scoring Jose Molina, who had singled, and Jose Bautista, who had walked, ahead of him.
“They kept pitching Lind away and he got an 0-2 fastball out over the plate,” said Farrell. “He’s not just a one-sided hitter. He’s got power to all fields. It gave us a little separation and the way Brandon was throwing, it was a sizable margin at that point.”
Rasmus made it 5-0 after leading off the top of the fourth with his second homer since coming over to Toronto from St. Louis at the trade deadline.