Morales tacks on another solid spot-start outing

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Morales tacks on another solid spot-start outing

BOSTON -- First the win. Now, the Whats next?

Of course, a win is easy to take as Franklin Morales gave the Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine Sunday afternoon against the Twins at Fenway Park.

Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, Morales was able to do what no other starter or any pitcher, for that matter could do in the four-game series against the Twins this weekend. Win. Morales also stopped the Sox four-game losing streak.

Starting in place of the ailing Josh Beckett, Morales earned the win, improving to 3-2. He went six innings, giving up one run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He threw 106 pitches, 63 for strikes, lowering his overall ERA from 3.32 to 3.14.

In six starts this season, Morales is 3-1, while the Sox are 4-2 in those games. Spanning 32 13 innings in those starts, he has allowed 11 earned runs for a 3.06 ERA, giving up 25 hits and 11 walks with 35 strikeouts.

The win by Morales was also the first by a starting pitcher since Clay Buchholz beat the Tigers on July 30.

He pitched six great innings, Valentine said. When you need some zeroes and lengthIm impressed with way he and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia used all of his pitches. A lot of changeups, strikes and he threw his curveball. He didnt get many strikes but he threw it effectively. Very impressive.

But now Valentine may have to make a decision.

I like him as a starter. We know that, Valentine said. Right now, I dont think we have to do anything with Franklin or make total determination. I have a tough Texas team coming in and our bullpen is a little wobbly and were a guy short out there and all that good stuff. Well play it by ear.

Deciding whether to return Morales to the bullpen or keep him in the rotation is not difficult, Valentine said. And, an immediate decision is not imperative.

But, its everything else that goes along with that kind of decision that Valentine must take into consideration.

Its an easy decision, Valentine said. We just have to figure out all the other parts. He wants to start and I want him to start and we have to figure out. We cant always count on a guy getting injured so he can get a start. Hes been lights out out there.

Morales has shuttled between the bullpen and rotation this season. He has made 34 appearances in all, getting called to start when needed. The back-and-forth does not bother him, he said.

You know what, I dont thinking too much about that, he said. I thinking inning by inning, hitter by hitter, throw strikes and take the hitter out.

Thats not my decision. I am here for the team, to help the team in any situation the manager needs me and try to take the hitter out.

Morales said he is confident in his ability and his role, whatever that maybe, on the staff.

My confidence is very good, he said. I feel very concentrated with my pitches, with my split finger, with my curveball and my fastball. Its my best pitch and what I do is attack the hitter.

Morales and Saltalamacchia worked comfortably together on Sunday. Although they allowed the first batter to reach base in the first, third, and fifth innings, just one scored. The Twins got their lone run off Morales in the fifth when Alexi Casilla walked to lead off, stole second, went to third on Jamey Carrolls ground out, and scored on Ben Reveres sacrifice fly.

Other than that, there was little the Twins could do with the Sox left-hander.

Same thing hes done all year long, Saltalamacchia said. Came in there, threw strikes, mixing his off-speed pitches for strikes, which is huge. It gets hitters off-balance. They dont know really what to swing at and what not to swing at. He just pitched great.

The 106 pitches were the second-highest pitch count of the season for Morales, behind only 109 in seven innings on June 28, nine appearances and three starts prior to Sunday.

Its real impressive considering that he went from bullpen to starter back to the bullpen again, Saltalamacchia said. Hes been up and down every night. Even Saturday night he knew he was starting today but he still had his cleats on just in case. The guy, to have a mentality like that, to be able to turn a switch and pitch a gem like today is awesome.

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz 'made one pitch that hurt' Red Sox

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

QUOTES:

"He pitched as we had anticipated at the time of the trade.'' - John Farrell on Drew Pomeranz.

"I had a good curveball and I was locating my fastball a lot better. I was in a lot better counts all night, but I made one pitch that hurt us.'' - Pomeranz on his outing.

"He was able to limit the damage against a very good offensive team. He pitched well enough to win. I just wish we could have put more runs on the board for him.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr. on Pomeranz.

 

NOTES:

* Until Monday night, the Red Sox had won their last six series openers.

* Drew Pomeranz has allowed four or fewer hits in 12 of his 18 starts this season.

* Eleven of Travis Shaw's last 15 hits have been for extra bases.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. had his 25th multi-hit game.

* Sandy Leon is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

* The Red Sox are 21-21 in games decided by two or fewer runs.

* Dustin Pedroia (walk, single) has reached base in 28 straight games.

* Xander Bogaerts has 133 hits through 97 games. Since 1940, only Wade Boggs (134 in 1983; 135 in 1987) and Adrian Gonzalez (135 in 2011) had more.

STARS:

1) Justin Verlander

Verlander has enjoyed a bounce-back season of sorts this year, and the Red Sox got to see it up close Monday night as Verlander limited them a single run over six innings.

2) Jose Iglesias

The former Red Sox shortstop haunted his old team with a two-run homer in the sixth to put the Tigers ahead to stay.

3) Drew Pomeranz

The lefty absorbed the loss, but pitched well enough to win, giving up two runs in six innings while striking out seven.