Coming off gem, Morrow roughed up in loss

Coming off gem, Morrow roughed up in loss

Coming off gem, Morrow roughed up in loss
ARLINGTON -- Brandon Morrow entered play on Friday riding one of the hottest streaks of his career, but all of that came to a dramatic halt against the Rangers.

Toronto's most reliable pitcher was anything but for at least one outing as Morrow didn't get out of the first inning in the shortest start of his career.

Morrow put the Blue Jays into an early deficit they were unable to overcome, surrendering six runs in just two-thirds of an inning in a 14-3 loss to the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"I'm just going to pretend that game never happened," Morrow said in his only postgame comment. "I'm going to continue preparing for my next start the way I have been, so I can continue to go out there and pitch the way I have. That's all I have to say."

The problems began right out of the gate as Morrow walked leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler in a 13-pitch at-bat. Three batters later, Morrow surrendered a two-run single to Adrian Beltre for the game's first two runs.

The next two batters reached to load the bases with one out for Nelson Cruz. As Morrow's early game pitch count continued to rise, he allowed a bases-clearing double to put the Blue Jays behind, 5-0.

Mitch Moreland later reached base and Ian Kinsler delivered the final blow with a double over the head of center fielder Colby Rasmus. That was the end for Morrow, who saw 10 batters come to the plate in a 44-pitch performance that resulted in just two outs.

Morrow gave up six runs on five hits while walking three and not striking out a batter for the first time this season. It marked just the second time since 2007 that a healthy Blue Jays pitcher failed to get out of the first. The last person to record the unfortunate feat was Kyle Drabek on June 4, 2011, when he allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

"Uncharacteristic," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who added there wasn't anything physically wrong with his starter. "Even about four starts ago, when he didn't have his normal power he made a number of quality pitches to manage the lineup, manage the situation that unfolded during the game. But obviously tonight was not the case. To their credit, they swung the bats exceptionally well."

For the Rangers, it was the fifth time this season they scored at least six runs in an inning and the third time it has occurred in the first frame. That it came against Morrow comes as a surprise considering the 27-year-old was still riding the high of a shutout versus the Mets.

Morrow entered play having won five of his last six while posting a 1.73 ERA over that span. But now his ERA skyrocketed from 2.63 to 3.47 in 62 1/3 innings while he picked up just his second loss since April 18.

"He's had a very strong year for us," Farrell said. "This is very uncharacteristic of any of the starts he has had through the season so far. I'd like to think this is the aberration, certainly. He has been extremely dominant in many cases so far this year. He'll be back out there Wednesday."

Things went from bad to worse for Toronto in the seventh as Cruz added his fourth career grand slam to increase the Rangers' run total to 14. Cruz finished with four hits in five at-bats while recording eight RBIs, which tied for the second-most in franchise history.

The lopsided score got so bad that in the eighth catcher Jeff Mathis became the sixth position player in franchise history to take the mound. He allowed a pair of baserunners, but was the only Blue Jays pitcher on the night to not allow a run.

The Blue Jays were held off the scoreboard until the sixth, when Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-out homer over the wall in left field. His 15th homer of the season was his second in as many games and moved him to within six of last year's total.

Toronto added two more in the eighth as Rangers starter Derek Holland was charged with two runs on five hits while striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings.

"I feel like it was really good," Holland said of his outing. "I felt like I've always had fairly good stuff as long as I've been consistent and kept it down. That's always been the big thing.

"I felt like my slider was a lot better than it had been the rest of the season. The other big thing was that I was ahead of the hitters. I only had one walk that came, obviously, at the end of the game."

Toronto has dropped five of its past seven road contests and sits an even .500 (12-12) away from Rogers Centre this season.

"They didn't miss many pitches that found their way to the middle of the plate," Farrell said. "Strong offensive performance on their part, for sure. In the meantime, while they were scoring runs, Holland continued to pitch extremely well and shut us down."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for 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.