Sox stretching out Morales

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Sox stretching out Morales

BOSTON In his previous outing Sunday in Toronto left-hander Franklin Morales went 4 13 innings, more than doubling his prior career high in a relief appearance. In Saturdays 4-2 loss to the Nationals, he entered in the sixth inning with the Red Sox trailing by four runs.

He pitched a perfect three innings with three strikeouts.

In his last two outings combined, he has gone 7 13 scoreless innings, giving up two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts, lowering his overall ERA to 3.04.

Thats what I try to do, Morales said. I try to hold the other team, to do my thing, give my team a chance to get a couple runs. Thats what I try to do, throw strikes, and make my pitches.

Morales struck out three of the last four batters he faced Rick Ankiel swinging at a curveball, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore looking at a 96-mph fastball, and Bryce Harper swinging at a curveball.

When I pitch I dont think for a strikeout, Morales said. I pitch to get the hitter out and if I have the opportunity, I make my pitch and thats it.

Morales three perfect innings were the most by a Sox reliever this season and the most by a Sox lefty since Jamie Moyers three perfect innings in Oakland on May 28, 1996.

For Morales, who thought he could have gone longer against the Nationals, his last two performances were needed. In the outing against the Blue Jays, he entered with two outs in the second inning after Daniel Bards meltdown, when Bard faced 13 batters, hit two, and gave up five runs.

Saturday against the Nationals, Morales relieved Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was returning to a major league mound for the first time since Tommy John surgery June 10, 2011.

Manager Bobby Valentine knew an early call to the bullpen would be likely.

"That's twice Franklin's pitched in a bit of a long role, Valentine said. We're stretching him out a little, and he's maintaining his stuff, throwing strikes, changing speeds. He's doing a very good job.

Getting Morales stretched out also gives Valentine another pitching option, which he really hasnt had this season an emergency spot starter.

"You have to make as many plans as you can, Valentine said. With the way our bullpen's set up, I think that he has some length in him. I thought he did, and now I have a better feeling that he has some length in him. It's good to have."

For his part, Morales said hell take whatever role is asked of him.

Thats not my decision, he said. But I try to do what I can to help. What I can control is go out there. If you give me an opportunity. Ill take it.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

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Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

MIAMI  — Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.

Authorities said Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.

Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

"Hands down one of my favorite guys to watch pitch! He brought nothing but intensity and passion," Red Sox pitcher David Price said on Twitter early Sunday.

Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a "severe impact" with a jetty, said FWC's Lorenzo Veloz.

"We are stunned and devastated," Major League Baseball said in a statement.

City of Miami Fire-Rescue workers were seen carrying bodies, draped and on stretchers, at the Coast Guard station after sunrise Sunday. The names of the other two individuals are being withheld pending notification of relatives, the Coast Guard said.

Fernandez was a two-time All-Star who went 38-17 in his four seasons with the Marlins, winning the NL's Rookie of the Year award in 2013. The native of Santa Clara, Cuba became a U.S. citizen last year and was enormously popular in Miami.

He tried to defect from Cuba at least three times — landing in jail after one of those unsuccessful tries — before eventually getting to the U.S. and going to high school in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him in 2011 and Fernandez was in the majors two years later.

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.

"I'm still in shock," former Marlins player Gaby Sanchez said on Twitter. "The world has lost a remarkable person. You will be missed and my heart goes out to the Fernandez family."

© 2016 Associated Press.

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.