Sox stretching out Morales

Sox stretching out Morales
June 10, 2012, 12:54 am
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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.