Morales earns a bullpen ‘save’
TORONTO - Franklin Morales did the Red Sox an unexpected service Sunday, pitching 4 1/3 innings of relief against the Blue Jays after the implosion by starter Daniel Bard.
Morales did not allow a run in the longest relief stint of his career. He gave up two hits, no walks and struck out four while throwing 52 pitches.
Morales, who last pitched Thursday, had not gone more than two innings this season.
“Franklin saved the day so we didn’t have to abuse the bullpen,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “I guarantee that.’’
Morales said after the game that he felt fine and could have continued pitching if asked.
“I’m not tired,’’ he said. “I was just trying to make my pitches and throw my breaking ball for strikes.’’
The last Red Sox lefthander to go that long in relief was John Halama, who pitched 4 1/3 innings against the Orioles May 30, 2005.
Since being acquired from the Rockies last May, Morales has pitched 27 innings on the road and allowed three earned runs. But he has given up 18 earned runs in 26 innings at Fenway Park.
Dustin Pedroia missed his sixth consecutive game with a torn muscle in his right thumb. But he was available if needed and is expected to play Tuesday night against Baltimore.
“I’m 100 percent,’’ he said. “I’ll be out there.’’
Pedroia said he had no plans to work out on Monday when the team is off.
“Good to go,’’ he said.
Cody Ross said he has been cleared to start working out again after spending 14 days in a walking boot to help heal a fractured bone in his left foot.
“We’ll ramp it up slowly, some jogging and hitting for go from there,’’ he said.
Scouts from the Phillies and Diamondbacks attended the series to evaluate Kevin Youkilis. A substantial number of teams have interest in the infielder, who is 11 of 38 (.289) since returning from the disabled list.
Youkilis is an appealing pickup for a contending team for reasons beyond his production at the plate. He has 29 games of postseason experience, the versatility to play first base or third base, and a manageable $8 million remaining on his contract for this season.
There is a team option for $13 million for 2013 with a $1 million buyout, making Youkilis a short-term commitment.
The first-year player draft starts Monday at 7 p.m. The Red Sox will make two selections on the first day, Nos. 24 and 31. The first is their pick and the second is compensation from the Phillies for signing free agent Jonathan Papelbon.
This particular draft class is not considered an inspiring one. One of the top prospects is shortstop Gavin Cecchini of Lake Charles, La. He is the younger brother of Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini, a third baseman with Single A Greenville who was taken in the fourth round in 2010.
One possibility for the Sox on the second day is Bard’s younger brother. The Sox took Luke Bard in the 16th round in 2009 but he enrolled at Georgia Tech. Bard is 3-2 with a 3.47 in 55 career college games, 50 of them in relief. A torn lat muscle has limited him to 27 1/3 innings this season.
No rest yet
Daniel Nava has started all 24 games and played all 212 innings since being called up from Triple A Pawtucket May 10. Valentine considered giving his left fielder a day off during the weekend but decided against it.
With the team off Monday, Nava can rest then.
“I looked at him in the training room. He’s young, he’s strong, he’s feeling good. The last thing I think he needs is two days away from it,’’ Valentine said. “He’s making good contact.’’
Nava has been worthy of the playing time. He was 0 for 3 Sunday with a walk and is hitting. 303 with a .957 OPS since being called up.
Nava’s ascension will create the need to trim the roster once Ross and Darnell McDonald are healthy enough to return from the disabled list. McDonald played in his sixth rehabilitation game for Triple A Pawtucket Sunday, going 1 for 5 with a double and two strikeouts at Lehigh Valley.
For players such as McDonald, Marlon Byrd, and Scott Podsednik, there will be a squeeze.
“There’s not a lot of hypothetical talk,’’ Valentine said. “But there’s talk about where we are and what we have at this present time. [General manager Ben Cherington] is having a lot of thoughts about the roster, because the roster is pretty complicated and is going to continue to be challenging.’’
There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims of a shooting at a downtown Toronto shopping mall, Eaton Centre, Saturday night. One person was killed and seven wounded by a gunman who was still at large as of Sunday afternoon.
Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie was at the mall at the time and sent out Twitter messages describing the scene.
“It was instant panic, it was almost as if you stepped on an anthill and everyone just flooded right out of the whole place,’’ Lawrie told reporters before the game.
Atchison streaks on
Scott Atchison pitched a scoreless seventh inning, extending his streak to 19 2/3 innings without allowing a run . . . Righthander Ross Ohlendorf opted out of his minor league deal when the Red Sox decided against adding him to the 40-man roster Friday. The 29-year-old was 4-3 with a 4.61 earned run average in 10 starts for Pawtucket after signing with the Sox just before spring training . . . Rehabbing outfielder Ryan Kalish went 1 for 3 in Portland’s 2-0 loss to Altoona . . . Mark Prior pitched in his first game for Pawtucket Saturday night, throwing a scoreless inning in relief against Lehigh Valley in the second game of a doubleheader. Prior walked one, struck out one, and threw 14 of 23 pitches for strikes.