Morrow 3-hits Angels to lead Blue Jays to 5-0 win
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Brandon Morrow wasn't quite as stingy as Jered Weaver was the night before on the Angel Stadium mound. The Toronto Blue Jays' right-hander gave up three more hits than Weaver — while matching his nine scoreless innings.
Morrow earned his second career shutout with 102 pitches, facing one batter over the minimum, and batterymate J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer in the third inning to lead the Blue Jays to a 5-0 win on Thursday night in the opener of an 11-game road trip.
"It was just really fastball command the whole time," said Morrow, who didn't throw a changeup all night and just two curve balls. "I pretty much put it anywhere I wanted every time. When you get an early lead like that and your pitch count is down, you're thinking complete game at that point."
Morrow (3-1) won his third straight start, striking out eight and walking none to help Toronto win for the fifth time in six games after a four-game skid. The only Angels hits were a pair of singles by rookie Mike Trout and a leadoff double in the ninth by Trumbo that ended a string of 14 consecutive batters retired by Morrow.
The 28-year-old, picked fifth overall in the 2006 draft by Seattle and traded to Toronto in December 2009, has allowed just one run in 21 2-3 innings over his last three outings. His other shutout was on Aug. 8, 2010 at Toronto, when his no-hit bid was broken up by Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria with two out in the ninth. Morrow settled for a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts.
"I missed more bats that night, but I think I pitched better tonight," Morrow said. "My fastball command was really what did it for me. That's probably the best I've ever been with that. I mean, I felt like I could have hit that down-and-away strike with my eyes closed. I probably could have thrown all fastballs the way I was locating."
It was plain for everyone to see how dominant Morrow was as he tamed an offense that put up nine runs and 15 hits the night before against the Minnesota Twins. He ended the first and fourth innings with double-play grounders by Albert Pujols and Vernon Wells.
"That's a pretty special thing to do, especially against a team with a lineup that top to bottom is one of the best in the big leagues," Arencibia said. "He was ahead of everybody. It seemed like he was 0-1, 0-2 right away. He was in advantage counts the whole night, so they kind of had their backs against the wall.
"When you have a guy who's throwing 95-96 down at the knees with an 88-89 mile-an-hour slider, it's going to be a tough night for them. And the way he was out there tonight, a couple of runs was all he was going to need."
Still basking in the afterglow of Weaver's no-hitter against the Twins, the Angels were counting on Dan Haren to continue the momentum. But Haren (1-2) was charged with five runs — three earned — and five hits over seven innings in his sixth start after getting his first victory of the season last Saturday at Cleveland.
Haren gave up a single to center by Brett Lawrie on his first pitch of the third, ending a streak of 17 1-3 consecutive hitless innings by Angels pitchers (54 batters) following Weaver's gem and Jerome Williams' complete game shutout in which he no-hit the Twins over the final six. The streak technically began with Williams' inning-ending pickoff of Denard Span.
Lawrie was the first of four consecutive batters to hit safely in the third — in a span of just five pitches. Colby Rasmus bunted his way on before Arencibia, the Blue Jays' No. 9 hitter, drove the next pitch into the left field bullpen for his second homer of the season. He came in 0 for 9 against Haren.
Toronto added two more runs on a throwing error by converted third baseman Mark Trumbo, who made a key defensive play on a bunt to help preserve Weaver's no-no. Trumbo fielded a two-out grounder in the hole by Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth and threw the ball into the runner as Pujols backed off the bag to avoid a collision with Encarnacion. Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar scored on Trumbo's fourth error of the season.
Pujols' career-worst home run drought reached 32 games and 133 at-bats after he went 0 for 3, lowering his average to .202. The three-time NL MVP, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract in December as a free agent, has just five RBIs in 104 at-bats.
Six more at-bats by Pujols without a homer would eclipse Eddie Murray's 1996 record for the longest home run drought at the start of a season (109) by anyone with at least 400 career homers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Murray finished his Hall of Fame career with 504. Pujols hit 445 over his 11 previous big league seasons — all with the St. Louis Cardinals.
"For a guy that's has as much success as he has, I'm sure that he might wish to be in a different position than he is right now," Trumbo said. "But he's handled it as well as anybody I can possibly imagine, as far as staying upbeat and not showing any outward frustration."
Notes: The game lasted just 2 hours, 11 minutes ... The Angels will be sending Weaver's and batterymate Chris Iannetta's jerseys and one of the authenticated baseballs Weaver threw in his no-hitter to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. ... The Angels' superstitious TV announcing team of Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza did not mention the phrase "no-hitter" on the air Wednesday night until RF Torii Hunter caught the final out. Rojas and Gubicza handled Ervin Santana's no-hitter last year the same way.