Command struggles doom Morales vs. Yanks

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Command struggles doom Morales vs. Yanks

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.''

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."