May 25, 2012
Rangers jump all over Jays
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
ARLINGTON, TX - It was so ugly, so bad that you had to laugh -- or cry.
When catcher Jeff Mathis retires more hitters than starter Brandon Morrow, you know it was a long night for the Blue Jays and their fans.
Morrow has been the Blue Jays best starter this season by far and in his last outing he came up with an absolute gem as he pitched a complete game shutout against the Mets, a game where he held them to three hits, walked one and struck out eight.
It was his second complete game shutout of the season after he had opened 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA — the sixth lowest in the American League.
But against the Rangers on Friday night, Morrow was unable to make it out of the first inning, an embarrassment for him that resulted in a lopsided 14-3 drubbing by the Texas Rangers that included a grand slam smacked by Nelson Cruz off Jason Frasor in the seventh.
How bad did it get?
How about manager John Farrell running Mathis out to pitch the eighth. He gave up one hit and a walk but was the lone Jays pitcher not to give up a run.
Morrow had about three hours to prepare to face the media and when he did his ‘interview’ was about as brief as his outing.
“I’m going to continue to prepare myself for my next start the way I have been so I can continue to go out there and pitch the way I have been," Morrow said. "That’s all I have to say.”
There was really nothing he could say and the Jays to a man would simply like to throw this one in the trash can and move on.
“They didn’t miss many pitches that found their way to the middle of the plate,” Farrell said. “It was a strong offensive performance on their part for sure (18 hits).”
What was his take on Morrow?
“Uncharacteristic,” Farrell said. “Even four starts ago when he didn’t have his normal power he made a number of quality pitches to manage the lineup, to manage the situations that unfolded in the game. Obviously tonight was not the case.”
As for physical issues, Farrell said there were none.
Morrow’s line read two-thirds of an inning, five hits, three walks, six earned runs, a wild pitch and no strikeouts. His ERA jumped to 3.47.
It marked the shortest start of his career that previously occurred on May 10, 2010 when against the Red Sox he managed to go just 1 2/3 innings.
As it turned out Morrow and Frasor weren’t the only Jays pitchers to get burned.
Ryota Igarashi, just called up on Friday, allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in an eight-batter sixth where he made 41 pitches.
ON THE HILL
The bullpen took a whacking as well as Carlos Villanueva allowed two solo homers in 4 1/3 innings on top of the rough innings turned in by Frasor and Igarashi.
All three relievers will not be available for Saturday afternoon's game and Farrell, not wanting to add another name to that list, called on Mathis, the backup catcher for the eighth.
“Our bullpen has been pushed pretty hard," Farrell said of the decision. "It was a chance to save an arm for tomorrow. I called down to see if he’d be willing to throw an inning and he was.”
Mathis said it was the first time he has taken the mound in a long time.
“It was high school,” he said. “That was my first professional pitching appearance there.”
His first reaction when asked to volunteer?
“He asked me and I’d done it before and any way to help the team out,” Mathis said.
Just how goofy did it feel to be out there before a packed house — 46,780 fans — on the mound taking signs.
“The weirdest part was running in from the bullpen. That was real weird,” Mathis said. “Just coming in from a different angle. We’re always running from the dugout and running from the outfield was kind of weird.
“They’re a great lineup over there. They can swing the bats.”
The task for the Jays is to regain their composure and get their feet back under them.
They have now lost four of their past five and with two games remaining against Texas it could start getting real ugly.
In their final two games they have Henderson Alvarez and Kyle Drabek to try and turn it around.
After what happened to Morrow, his teammates need to step it up.