Powerful trio, Morrow lead Blue Jays to win

Powerful trio, Morrow lead Blue Jays to win

Powerful trio, Morrow lead Blue Jays to win
OAKLAND -- Brandon Morrow wasn't at his best, but was still plenty good enough to continue his recent dominance of the American League.

Toronto's No. 2 starter didn't have his typically effective slider working, but with an overpowering fastball that he commanded to both sides of the plate it didn't matter.

Morrow saw his string of quality outings continue with six strong innings of work in Toronto's 5-2 victory over the A's on Wednesday afternoon at the Coliseum.

"It was a matter of keeping the ball down," Morrow said. "All my misses were down or off the plate. I didn't have a very good slider and that probably played into it today, as far as getting deeper into counts when I might have been able to put some guys away."

Morrow's effective outing despite not having his best stuff on the mound is another example that the powerful right-hander is progressing in the right direction this season.

The California native allowed just one run on four hits while striking out a season high 10 batters. He hasn't lost since April 18, and is now 4-0 with a 0.65 ERA in his past four starts.

Morrow's only real problem occurred in the fifth after he issued a pair of two-out walks. Oakland's Jonny Gomes then followed with an RBI single for the club's only run against Morrow. That snapped Morrow's scoreless inning streak at 23 2/3 innings, following a complete-game shutout on May 3 against the Angels.

Morrow walked a season high four batters on the afternoon, which eventually led to an early departure. He threw 68 of his 114 pitches for strikes en route to his fifth quality outing in seven starts this year.

"He threw a lot of heaters again today," Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "He threw his slider, but it wasn't as good as it was last game. His slider was up a lot today, so we just kept on pounding in and out.

"In his last inning, we went all heaters in and out and threw one changeup, but other than that he got hit on that slider, and after that I was going to stay hard. If you command your fastball down in the zone like that it's tough to hit."

The Blue Jays' offense was sparked in the top of the fourth inning by Adam Lind. The veteran first baseman has spent the majority of the season in the heart of Toronto's batting order, but was dropped to eighth prior to the series finale in Oakland because of his prolonged struggles at the plate.

For at least one game, Lind put those recent woes behind him, as he sent a 0-1 changeup from A's starter Tyson Ross over the wall in right field for a two-run shot. Lind's third home run of the season was his second extra-base hit in nine games, and gave Toronto an early 2-0 lead.

The Blue Jays' offense continued its attack in the sixth. Brett Lawrie hit a two-out double to center field and eventually came around to score on an RBI single by Colby Rasmus. Arencibia followed one inning later with a solo shot to deep left field for his third home run of the year.

Arencibia's homer came just one day after being lifted for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the A's. Arencibia, who addressed the controversial decision with reporters prior to the game, was more than happy to turn the page and put the supposed disagreement with manager John Farrell in his rear-view mirror.

The second-year catcher is now hitting .346 (18-for-52) with two home runs and 11 RBIs in his past 16 games.

"I feel really well," Arencibia said of his recent production at the plate. "I've been swinging the bat well, I feel great. Last night is last night. In this game we don't worry about the past, now we're looking forward to Minnesota tomorrow."

Ross was charged with three of the runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out three. The 25-year-old Ross was originally expected to start on Thursday, but was forced to move up one day because of right-hander Brandon McCarthy was experiencing a sore right shoulder.

Toronto's final blow occurred in the eighth. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a solo shot to left-center field. Encarnacion's team-leading 10th blast provided more breathing room for new interim closer Casey Janssen.

Janssen, who entered the game with nine career saves, was handed the ninth-inning role prior to the game following Francisco Cordero's recent struggles on the mound. Janssen retired all three batters he faced to record Toronto's first three-up, three-down save of the season.

"I tried to treat it like any other inning," Janssen said. "My heart was going, but that's a good thing, and that's pretty normal. I know we had a little bit of a cushion there and I just wanted to attack the zone ... If they were going to get on base it was going to be because of a hit."

The Blue Jays will now close out their 10-game road trip with four games in Minnesota. Toronto finished 3-3 on its West Coast portion of the trip, and will need a strong showing against the Twins to finish above .500 away from Rogers Centre.

That would be a big boost for a club that has gone through more than its fair share of adversity in recent days. It was no surprise to Farrell, though, that his club was able to come back strong after Tuesday's loss, which saw Oakland win on a walk-off grand slam.

"One thing that this team repeatedly does, it puts behind them some adversity and they go out and put together another good game," Farrell said.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.