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.

Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

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Robinson Cano, Guillermo Heredia homer in Mariners' 5-0 win over Red Sox

BOSTON (AP)  Christian Bergman rebounded from a miserable start with seven shutout innings and the Seattle Mariners halted Boston's season-high six-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox on Sunday.

Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer and Guillermo Heredia a solo shot for the Mariners, who averted a three-game sweep with just their second win in nine games. Seattle was shut out the first two games.

Bergman (2-2) allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two. He got a lot of help from his infielders when they turned a double play in each of the first four innings.

Three relievers completed the combined five-hitter, with closer Edwin Diaz getting the final three outs despite two errors by infielders.

Bergman was tagged for 14 hits and 10 runs over four innings in a loss his previous start.

Rick Porcello (3-6) gave up 11 hits, but only two runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Seattle finished one off its club record for most double plays turned in a game.

After being shut out for the first 21 innings of the series, the Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Kyle Seager raced home from third after Porcello bounced a pitch that went over catcher Sandy Leon's right shoulder and onto the screen. Seager had doubled leading off and advanced on Danny Valencia's single.

Heredia homered over the Green Monster in the eighth and Cano sent his into the center-field bleachers an inning later.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, had another bullpen session Sunday because he wasn't happy with one a day earlier.

Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said 3B Pablo Sandoval, out since late April with a sprained right knee, will stay on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket to get his "timing going" with more at-bats.

ROSTER MOVES

Seattle sent Saturday's losing pitcher, RHP Rob Whalen, to Triple-A Tacoma and brought up RHP Ryne Harper from the same club.

The Red Sox also made moves with pitchers, sending Saturday's winner, lefty Brian Johnson, to Triple-A Pawtucket and promoting RHP Blaine Boyer for a day. Boyer will go back down Monday when ace David Price is activated.

Boyer made his Red Sox debut, retiring the only two batters he faced.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Sam Gaviglio (0-1, 1.38 ERA) is set to make his third major-league start when they open a two-game series Monday at Colorado. RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-6, 4.50) is scheduled for the Rockies.

Red Sox: LHP Price makes his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox after being sidelined since early spring training with a strained left elbow.

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Brian Johnson admits he almost retired one year ago due to anxiety

Brian Johnson admits he almost retired one year ago due to anxiety

Brian Johnson almost called it a career at age 25 -- just one year before he went on to throw a complete game shutout at Fenway Park.

He finished Saturday's 6-0 win over the Mariners with eight strikeouts and five hits allowed. To get on the mound at Fenway, he had to overcome a serious bout with anxiety and depression. Things came to a head roughly a year ago.

"At that point in time, I was ready to hang 'em up," Johnson told Mike Giardi and Rob Bradford on WEEI radio Sunday. "I wasn't happy, wasn't sleeping through the night, woke up in cold sweats. I just wasn't happy."

But when things got most challenging, Johnson asked for help, which made all the difference, he explained. He broke down on the phone with his father, and discussed all of the issues he'd been struggling with. Then he spoke on the phone with Red Sox mental skills coach Laz Gutierrez, who helped him game plan to fight against his anxiety and depression. Baseball was one of Johnson's problems, and he was considering cutting it out of his life.

"Yes, there were thoughts in my head where I was like, 'What else would I do with my life?'" Johnson said. "I don't think it was baseball. I mean, yes, I would be lying if I didn't say it was that. I think it was a lot of things. Where I was at in my life, I was only a baseball player, and people only saw me as a baseball player. I was just letting everything build up. I think it stemmed all from when I hurt my elbow. I didn't have any feeling in my hand."

He began to worry about whether the feeling in his hand would disappear during his starts. He'd knock his funny bone and the feeling would be gone. That was only one manifestation of his anxieties.

"I just felt like there microscope on me 24/7," he said, "and that's kind of what let's your mind play tricks on you.'

He added: "If I didn't say anything, I don't think there's any chance I'd be here playing baseball. And it is taboo. I always thought -- the reason it took me so long was because, if I say something, they're never going to trust me again. 'How is he able to perform if he's having anxiety and depression problems.' . . . And lo and behold, I think I have more trust now that I said something."

Johnson just kept getting back on the field by throwing one inning at a time until he started having fun again. Fast forward to Sunday, Johnson has two starts for the Sox for a 2.57 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 14 innings. He has also posted a 2.82 ERA in seven starts and 44.2 innings pitched in the minors.

But some unfortunate news followed his moment of triumph against the Mariners on Saturday. Johnson is heading back down to Pawtucket. The Sox optioned him with David Price rejoining the rotation.

"I would have loved to stay," Johnson said. "But I'm happy to do what they want me to . . . It stinks I'm getting sent down and optioned. But like I told John (Farrell) and like I told Dave (Dombrowski), 'I'm just going to keep working hard. Whenever you guys need me, I'm ready.'

Johnson said he wasn't riding a high of confidence after his excellent outing. He's keeping a level-head, and approaching the game the same way he did before his complete game. But he did admit he had a particularly special moment Saturday. After the game, his dad congratulated Johnson with a hug on the field at Fenway.

Johnson said: "That was the moment I was probably most grateful for everything."