Morales key to victory in unheralded role

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Morales key to victory in unheralded role

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Boston Red Sox bullpen guys not named Bard and Papelbon can sometimes get a little overlooked in the day-to-day business of the baseball team.

The hard throwers get much of the attention, and understandably so with the high 90s heat, dozens of saves and holds and little bit of bullpen swagger needed to get the job done in pressure situations.

True to form Sox lefty Franklin Morales didnt get the win, the save, or anything else statistically to show for Bostons 3-2 walk-off win sparked by Jacoby Ellsburys ninth inning single up the middle. But the hard-throwing southpaw was one of the biggest keys to victory when he held down the Cleveland Indians offense in the seventh and eighth innings following six frames from starter Josh Beckett.

He was extremely big," Terry Francona said. "He goes out and gives two innings, and he was nice and cleanly efficient with his pitches so we could send him out there for the second inning. He pitches well and were not scoring many runs, so he sets it up that we can with Papelbon in the ninth. The way our pitching performed set it up so that our offense could get going for the walk-off win.

Morales dropped his ERA under 4.00 for the season with his two innings of shutdown ball, and said that his concentration has been much better recently as the steady work has sharpened him in the pen. The Venezuelan hurler has fanned nine hitters in last 6 23 innings for the Sox a stretch that includes six appearances in an 11-day span thats helped Morales enter into a happy zone of throwing strikes, getting ahead of hitters and preying on people with his renewed curveball.

You know what? I felt great and I just tried to go out there and make all my pitches. Thats what I do, said Morales. I tried to have good concentration on the mound, and throw all my first pitches for strikes.

I started to throw curveball more in the last couple of weeks, and I feel great. Ill pitch in any situation that Tito feels comfortable putting me in and Im just going to do what I can to help the team win.

It was those two scoreless innings of relief with Morales allowing only a single hit and fanning three Tribe hitters that held everything in check for the bottom of the ninth inning Boston heroics. Morales hasnt allowed a run in 12 of 14 appearances since coming off the 15-day disabled list with a left forearm strain on June 28, but pitcher and manager both agreed Tuesday nights stint was his finest yet in a Red Sox uniform.

Everything was based off Morales command of the curveball and mixed in perfectly with the considerable heat hes already bringing to the table from the left side and the southpaw executed flawlessly.

He had good command of his curveball, so he was able to mix that in pretty much anytime that he wanted to, said Jason Varitek. I asked him to elevate some balls and he elevated them. I asked him to go down with some balls and he was able to do that too. He pitched well.

Morales may have a 0-0 record on the season and no saves for the Sox headed into the baseball stretch month of August, but its nights like Tuesday night that reveal just how valuable the veteran left-hander has been for a Sox ballclub that didnt feel the need to pick up any bullpen help at the trade deadline.

With Morales and the rest of the unheralded bullpen guys quickly and quietly going about their work, there simply wasnt the need.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Shaughnessy: Red Sox have a chance to flip this around

Shaughnessy: Red Sox have a chance to flip this around

Mike Felger and Dan Shaughnessy discuss the Boston Red Sox bouncing back from their slump with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Quotes, notes and stars: Fourth inning 'a grind' for Porcello

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Quotes, notes and stars: Fourth inning 'a grind' for Porcello

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 8-2 win over Tampa Bay

 

QUOTES

"I can't say enough about the way our position players have continued to grind away. . . Tonight was just another example of that.'' - John Farrell.

"He's been everything that we could have hoped. You look to a starting pitcher to go out and be consistent every fifth day -- he's been a model of that for us.'' - Farrell on Rick Porcello.

"It's nice to come back with a statement game tonight. The past couple of week haven't been good for us, so it was nice to get back on the right track tonight.'' - Travis Shaw.

"Preventing them from scoring first was big and then limiting the big inning. The fourth inning was a grind. I dug myself a hole and had to find a way out of it.'' - Rick Porcello.

 

NOTES

* Rick Porcello became the first Red Sox starter to record a win since David Price beat Seattle on Jume 19.

* Porcello is unbeaten over his last eight starts, going 3-0 with five no-decisions.

* Porcello had gone 19 straight starts without allowing more than two walks, the longest such streak for a Red Sox starter since Curt Schilling went 33 in a row.

* The Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and are one of two teams (Cleveland is the other) to not have lost four straight this season.

* Boston has a major league-leading 22 games in which it has scored eight or more runs.

* The first six hitters in the Red Sox lineup were 11-for-24, while the bottom three were a combined 0-for-13.

* Travis Shaw's home run was measured at 449 feet, the second-longest homer by a Red Sox player this season.

* In one night, Travis Shaw had more RBI (five) than he had in his previous 27 games (four).

* David Ortiz tied Frank Thomas in career RBI (1,704); both are in 23rd place.

 

STARS

1) Travis Shaw

Shaw belted out three hits -- including his first homer in the month of June -- and knocked in five RBI, tying a career high.

2) Rick Porcello

In a perfect world, Porcello would have gone a little deeper, but kept the Rays off the scoreboard early and helped set the tone for the night.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez reached base five times with two hits -- both singles -- and three walks - one intentional - and seemed to be in the middle of every Red Sox rally.