Morgan guts out tough-luck loss to Braves

Left-hander allows two runs over six innings in second quality start of 2016

Morgan guts out tough-luck loss to Braves

PHILADELPHIA -- Adam Morgan was much sharper in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Braves than his last outing, in which he didn't make it out of the fourth.

But Morgan collected his second quality start of the season -- both coming against his hometown Braves. He finished the day with only two runs on the scoreboard and six innings in the book.

"He managed to battle and make pitches when he had to," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He fought through it."

Not exactly a rousing endorsement, but Morgan felt similarly. Despite surrendering only two runs, the Braves were hitting balls hard off him all game. In all, they collected six hits and made a handful more loud outs.

Mackanin on 2-0 loss to Braves

"There were some pitches that I missed, but overall I felt like I improved on the outing last time," Morgan said. "So I'm just going to keep on doing that, trying to improve."

The 26-year-old southpaw was coming off the worst start of his career. Morgan allowed seven runs to the Reds in 3 2/3 innings last Sunday. He pointed to a lack of command during that start.

In each of the past two starts, though -- one good, one bad -- Morgan has walked more batters than he's struck out. He's combined to throw 9 2/3 innings but has walked five and struck out only two.

Morgan's never had swing-and-miss stuff, but this is well below even middling career strikeout numbers. His last two starts amount to a rate of 1.86 strikeouts per nine innings. In 15 MLB starts last season, that rate stood at 5.2, and his lowest Minor League mark came in his 13 starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season, at 4.3.

But Mackanin chose to overlook the less-than-dominant numbers in lieu of a strong mental performance, battling through six innings, following up a rough start.

"When you don't have your best stuff, or you're not locating as well as you can, you gotta figure out a way to get through it," he said. "And that's exactly what he did."

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.