May 19, 2012
Morrow makes it two against MetsBlue Jays record fourth win in a row
By Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency
TORONTO - It was a tough way to start the day if you happened to be Brandon Morrow.
Before he threw a pitch Saturday afternoon against the New York Mets, the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander was charged with an additional five earned runs, the result of a scoring change from his previous start, a 7-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.
The adjustment shot his ERA from 2.22 up to 3.08.
All was not gloomy for Morrow, however, as the Mets lineup he faced was without their .409 hitter, third baseman David Wright, who was sidelined due to flu-like symptoms.
The worry for the Jays this day was whether they had used up all their runs on Friday when they bashed five home runs en route to a 14-5 thumping of the Mets.
Would the Jays keep up the pace on Saturday or would they be weary from swinging the lumber?
Through the opening four innings, the latter rang true as the score was 0-0 with the Jays out-hitting the Mets two to one.
In the fifth, however, the Jays broke through for two runs.
Thanks to the performance of Morrow that was all the offence Toronto needed needed as they ran their win streak to four games with a 2-0 victory.
While Morrow gave up six runs and walked four in his start against the Rays, one which lasted all of five innings, he was superb against the Mets.
Morrow allowed a single by Ronny Cedeno in the third, a double by Lucas Duda in the seventh and single by Mike Baxter in the ninth.
Overall, Morrow, 5-2, struck out eight in notching his second complete-game shutout of the season.
His first was a three-hit shutout of the Angels on May 3.
“Just a beautifully pitched ball game from Brandon today,” Jays manager John Farrell enthused. “Two outstanding plays by Jose (Bautista) out in right field including a throw out, a key play in that ninth inning. We bunched a couple of hits together to score the two runs but the story of the day clearly is Brandon — four pitches for strikes, a lot of strikes all day, getting ahead in the counts, had the ability to step on his fastball a little bit to get a swing-and-miss when needed. Just an outstanding pitched game on his part.”
Morrow received a game-changing break from second base umpire Brian Knight in the ninth.
With a runner on first and one out, Baxter lined a shot into the right-field corner. Bautista was on the ball quickly and rifled a throw to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who was covering second. Escobar made a sweep tag, never touching Baxter.
But Knight, blocked out by the runner, called him out.
Instead of one out and runners at second and third, it was two out and a runner at third. Morrow then closed it out when Daniel Murphy lined out to Escobar.
Still, Morrow’s growth this season has been significant.
“Right now he’s obviously pitching with a lot of confidence,” Farrell said of Morrow. “This has been a two-plus year progression for him being converted from a reliever to a full-time starter. He set out in spring training to get a more consistent feel for his curveball and changeup and you’ve seen the whole package come together.”
Offensively, the Jays received an RBI double from Kelly Johnson and RBI single from Escobar, both in the fifth.
After the game, Johnson raved about Morrow’s performance.
“It’s a blast (to play behind him), the guy’s got such electric stuff,” Johnson said. “When he’s locating like that and working at that pace it just makes it so easy on us. It’s been phenomenal and he’s been like that the whole year.
“He’s so comfortable and poised and just dealing.”
Defensively, the Jays were at the top of their game. Besides the phantom tag by Escobar they received a couple of big plays in the field from Bautista.
“A lot of little things happened. Jose made two great defensive plays (the first a running catch to the fence in the sixth), the throw was huge, the catch on (Andres) Torres at the wall was huge,” Johnson said.
The Jays close out the series on Sunday and will be looking for the sweep with Henderson Alvarez, 3-3, on the mound.