Pitcher Brandon Morrow shrugged off his recent struggles in a big way on Sunday afternoon as the right hander silenced the New York Yankees bats in an impressive eight inning shutout performance.
Toronto Blue Jays took the rubber match 3-0 at the Rogers Centre on the strength of Morrow’s strong outing and Adam Lind’s two solo homeruns off Yankees starting pitcher Freddy Garcia. Eric Thames added the other RBI on a sacrifice fly while Frank Francisco came on in the ninth inning to close out the game to earn his 16th save in 20 opportunities this season.
Morrow had lost six of his previous seven decisions but went the distance to earn his tenth win of the season while giving up just four hits and a walk while striking out four. Blue Jays Manager John Farrell thought his pitcher had one of his best starts of the season.
“Probably one of his better ones, given the opponent and given the stretch that he’s come off of to put some recent outings behind him,” said Farrell. “He went through a 10 or 11 start stretch where he was dominant and that dominance was there again today.”
For Morrow there was no doubt – this was his best outing of the year.
“I think it was my best game this year and I think I needed that as a starting point to finish strong the rest of the year,” said Morrow who still has two more starts this season. “I knew I wanted to get my confidence back and still trying to finish strong and that’s a good place to start.”
Adam Lind celebrates one of his two homeruns with second baseman Kelly Johnson on his way back to the dugout
Despite his dominant performance, Farrell never considered pushing his starter to pitch the ninth inning in a bid for the complete game shutout.
“No, we’ve got kind of a soft limit in terms of pitch count,” added Farrell. “He was at 107 (pitches) and we didn’t want to get him at 120 pitches. Eight very good innings pitched today – to leave on a positive note, and as well as Frank has been pitching, it was a decision relatively easy.”
Lind, who was also coming off a forgettable stretch in August, continued his strong form at the plate in September and now has 26 homeruns on the season. He also gave high praise to Morrow on his performance and thinks the pitcher is capable of that effort every time he steps on the mound.
“It was good to put a couple of runs on the board, especially early to give Brandon (Morrow) all he needed and all he needed was one run today,” said Lind. “He was terrific and a lot of credit goes to him.”
“The potential for him to be unhittable – he’s capable of doing that every night. But today he was unhittable and when he has that kind of stuff he’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues.”Thames Survives Scare
Left fielder Eric Thames fouls a pitch off his eye in the 7th inning also knocking off his helmet
Thames survived a scary moment in the 7th inning when the left fielder fouled a pitch off his face sending his helmet flying in the air as a result. The ball hit Thames' eyelid splitting it open and started to swell, but fortunately there was no concern with his vision. Thames felt ok to continue his at bat, but Farrell took no chances and pulled him from the game.
"That’s kind of a scary moment,” said Farrell. “At first I thought it hit him in the helmet to take the helmet off, but it was a direct blow to the eye and caromed to the visor and took it off. I think right now he’s fortunate that the laceration was the only thing that he sustained.”
After the game, Thames was in good spirits and was sporting a red mark on his left eyelid as he spoke to the media.
“A fastball up and in, swung and foul tipped it right in between the gap between the eye and my helmet and as you can see it pinched the skin a little bit,” laughed Thames describing what happened. “So I got away with it, I’m lucky…I think it looks worse than it actually is so tomorrow we’ll see if it’s swollen but it should be ok.”
Thames made two great catches in the game but it was his running, diving effort in the third inning that earned him a standing ovation from the 34, 657 in attendance. He ran back towards the warning track before lunging to make the catch and then held on as he dove onto his stomach. The catch was evidence of just how far Thames has come this season defensively as he is now feeling more comfortable after struggling at times in the outfield.
Thames is examined by a team doctor and Manager John Farrell
“All in a day’s work – I’m just trying to help the team win,” said Thames. “It felt good to make a catch like that for Brandon and watch him pitch the way he did today.”
“Nobody wants to be labeled as a defensive liability or a DH. I take a lot of pride in helping the team win offensively and defensively. So to be able to have an opportunity to be able to lay out and make a play for the team – it means everything.”Added Farrell, “He has come a long way in left field – he really has. He is a tireless worker. There have been some times early on where it was a little touch and go but through the repetition he’s feeling more comfortable. I think instinctually he’s getting better reads on some balls that can tail towards the line and that was the case again today.”
Toronto (77-75) may have ended its season series with New York (91-60) on a winning note by taking the weekend set, but still finished with a disappointing 7-11 record against the Yankees this season. However, in getting the win, the Jays also ensured that Yankees closer Mariano Rivera did not make history on its home turf as he was one save away from breaking Trevor Hoffman's all-time save record of 601.
The Jays will now start its final home series of the season – a four game set against the Los Angeles Angels starting Monday night at 7pm ET. Toronto is 3-3 against Los Angeles and the series will mark the second return to Toronto this season for former-Jay Vernon Wells with his new club.
Blue Jays give each other high fives to celebrate its 3-0 victory over the Yankees
This article was originally published on Oye! Times