2:47 AM Eastern
Two winters ago, the Seattle Mariners traded Brandon Morrow to the Blue Jays after four years of ups and down from the majors to the minors, from the bullpen to the rotation and back – then back again. They rushed him to the big leagues, ostensibly to calm the ire of fans who were upset they didn’t draft local product Tim Lincecum, and then had him on a roller coaster which didn’t serve his development at all well.
It would probably be a stretch to say that Morrow was as happy to get out of Seattle as Colby Rasmus was to get out of St. Louis, but it might not be that much of a stretch.
Almost two years hence, Morrow finally had his first opportunity to take the ball at Safeco Field as a visitor, and he made the most of it.
The 27 year-old had one of his most dominant outings of the season, throwing six innings of three-hitter, walking only two and striking out a dozen. Morrow didn’t allow a hit until the 4th and carried that 1-hitter to the 6th, which was when the Mariners scored their run.
For all the gnashing of teeth about this apparent “one inning in which Morrow falls apart every game”, if the 6th was that inning, I’ll take it every time. The Mariners hit one ball hard – a Franklin Gutierrez RBI double that short-hopped the wall in centrefield. Morrow also walked a man, gave up an infield single to Ichiro Suzuki, threw a wild pitch and hit Casper Wells in the nose with a 97 mile-an-hour fastball.
Incredibly, Wells suffered no more than just a bloody nose – he managed to turn his face out of the way at the absolute last second, saving himself from a possibly catastrophic injury. That was scary.
The hit batsman loaded the bases, but Morrow struck out Trayvon Robinson to end the inning and his outing. The bullpen took it the rest of the way, with Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen and Frank Francisco providing a hitless inning of relief each.
All the Jays runs came via the longball – Edwin Encarnacion and Rasmus belted leadoff homers in the 2nd and 4th, respectively, and Adam Lind dialed it up for a three-run job with two out in the 3rd. That was more than enough for Morrow et al.
Yunel Escobar showed the dichotomy that is himself in a span of three batters in the 8th inning. With a runner on first and nobody out, Josh Bard hit a routine fly ball to left field. Eric Thames caught it, then fired in to Escobar, who seemed to forget that there was a runner on base as he flipped the ball to Brett Lawrie, throwing the ball around the horn as players will with the bases empty. Lawrie had no idea a throw was coming and ducked out of the way as he saw the ball coming at him out of the corner of his eye. It was just a complete lapse by Escobar, but did he ever make up for it a couple of batters later.
A throwing error by Lawrie on the subsequent play brought Ichiro Suzuki to the plate with one out – merely one of the hardest guys to double up in the big leagues. Suzuki hit a grounder up the middle that Escobar corraled. He took three steps to the second-base bag, and stepped on it as he threw an absolute laser-beam to first for the inning-ending double play. Just beautifully done.
As a wise TV theme song once said, you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have Yunel Escobar. But so far, he has offered much, much more good than bad.
Here’s tonight’s edition of The Late Night JaysTalk, for your listening pleasure:
With the beautiful Pacific Northwest in their rear-view mirror, the Blue Jays head down the coast to open up a four-game set in Oakland. The first game features Ricky Romero looking for his fifth win in as many starts, he takes on A’s righty Trevor Cahill, who is having a disappointing season after appearing to break through last year. We’ll be on the air at 9:30 PM Eastern for a 10:05 first pitch – join us, won’t you?
Those of you listening on Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 or on this very website will get the extra-special treat of a pre-pre-game show, starting at 9:00 PM Eastern. We’ll hear from Alex Anthopoulos as he talks about Aaron Hill and feeds the prospect fetishists with thoughts on Adeiny Hechavarria and Travis d’Arnaud, among others. We’ll also hear from the winning pitcher of Game Six of the 1985 American League Championship Series, part of the Royals’ comeback from three games to one down to beat the Blue Jays.
Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590.
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