For three starts, Franklin Morales looked like a world-beater.
That came to an abrupt stop at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon, when Morales ran smack into the New York Yankees.
The Yankee clubbed four homers and reached him for six runs in just 3 13 innings. The lefty, who entered the game with a 2.51 ERA, saw his ERA jump almost exactly a full run in the disappointing start to 3.50.
"His fastball just kept coming back over the middle of the plate, obviously,'' said Bobby Valentine. "Instead of running away from the righthanders, it was cutting in. He couldn't control it on the outside part (of the plate) and he got hit, throwing fastballs in fastball counts.
"I tried to throw my pitches and I missed,'' confessed Morales. "I didn't have the command of my two-seamer and when I tried to throw strikes (behind in the count), they hit it. That's going to happen. That's the game.''
And the game effectively over in the first inning. With Derek Jeter (single) and Robinson Cano (hit by pitch) on base, Nick Swisher homered into the Monster Seats, giving the Yankees a quick 3-0 lead. Andruw Jones then followed with a solo homer.
Looking back, the key at-bat may have been hitting Cano when Morales was just an out away from getting out of the first without being scored on.
"I tried to go in with my two-seamer,'' recalled Morales. "That's my best pitch against a lefty and I missed.''
Things seemed to stabilize for the next two innings, but then Morales got hit by the long ball again, with Jones -- again -- and infielder Jayson Nix hitting back-to-back solo shots.
Two batters later, Morales, who had pitched five, six and seven innings in his first three starts, was done after just 3 13 innings.
Morales said pitching out of the bullpen in Oakland -- his previous start had come on June 28 and he had extra rest -- wasn't a factor.
"That (relief outing) was good for me,'' maintained Morales. "Everything's fine.''
Pitching coach Bob McClure said all four of the homers hit off Morales were "behind-the-count fastball. He was having a little trouble with his grip. The ball kept cutting on him, which is unusual for him -- it usually tails. I think that had something to do with some of it.
"Against a team like this, he's a fastball guy, he's going to throw a lot of fastballs and they know it. And if you don't locate, they don't miss them. But he'll turn it around the next time.''