Brandon Morrow Has Another Solid Outing; Blue Jays Use Small Ball to Take Series Win Over Rangers

By Thom Tsang

After yesterday’s extended tirade about Jo-Jo Reyes, I think I’ll keep this a little shorter, being that a) the Blue Jays won 5-2 with a rally in the 9th inning, and b) we got a good pitching performance on the mound. Leave it to Brandon Morrow to get the job done when the Jays really needed a pick-me up on the mound after yesterday’s 3rd inning implosion – the ace-in-the-making put up yet another solid performance after coming back from the DL, striking out 6 Rangers batters while allowing just a couple of runs on 6 scattered hits over 6 innings of work.

Morrow brought his good stuff to the mound today, consistently hitting high-90s with his fastball and frustrating the Rangers lineup with his off-speed offerings. The two runs that the Rangers scored, they scraped it together with aggressive baserunning, as Morrow only allowed one extra-base hit all afternoon long.

Had the Jays given him just half the run support they gave to Reyes last night, it would have been enough to win the ballgame. Nothing comes easy against the best home team in the majors though, and Morrow was matched evenly by Rangers starter Alexi Ogando, who brought his own strikeout stuff to the mound, notching 7 Ks on his own. Ogando allowed just 4 hits over his 6 innings of work, and the only real mistake he made was feeding a gift to – who else – Adam Lind with a runner on, who crushed his 4th home run of the season, picking up RBIs 19 and 20.

And so, the Jays and Rangers held a 2-2 duel right up to the final moments of the game, when the bluebirds decided to use a little small ball to break the tie. After John Macdonald and Yunel Escobar both singled to put runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, Corey Patterson came up, and took the Rangers infield by complete surprise, laying down a perfectly-placed drag bunt that not only scored Macdonald from third, but gave Patterson his first hit of the day.

After Jose Bautista walked to load the bases, the Jays the broke the game open with a strange sequence that included two errors: Juan Rivera hit into an easy out that Adrian Beltre bobbled, scoring Escobar from 3rd. Then for some unknown reason, Jose Bautista took off for 3rd without realising that Patterson was still at the base. Caught in the middle of the basepaths and rushing back to 2nd, Bautista drew an errant throw from Rangers reliever Darren Oliver that ended up in the outfield, scoring Patterson on the 2nd error of the play.

For a moment there, it looked as though the Rangers infield was in complete chaos; that gave the Blue Jays the insurance they needed, and Frank Francisco made quick work of the Rangers to end the ball game, getting a pair of Ks and a lineout to end it. Francisco actually stepped in the bottom of the 8th to record an out while the game was tied, so he actually ended up with the win and not the save. He flashed his elite K-rate and closer stuff, though – 3 strikeouts over 1.1 perfect innings in an audition to get back to the 9th inning, where I think he’s best suited to contribute to the Jays club.

Coming off the homestand over the weekend, it was hard to imagine that the Blue Jays could head into Texas and win a series against the league champions – but that’s exactly what they did, taking 3 out of 4 from one of the best teams in the majors. Of all the unexpected things that could have happened in this series, perhaps the most surprising is that the Blue Jays out-hit the Rangers all series long. The middle of the order (aside from Jose Bautista) came alive, with Adam Lind and Juan Rivera really benefited from hitting in Rangers Ballpark, and if they can continue to swing this way, the Jays will be a tough play for just about anyone in the league.

They’ll continue to take the show on the road, when the bluebirds stroll into Yankee Stadium to take on the Evil Empire in a weekend series. At least we won’t have to see Jo-Jo Reyes against this team.

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