Franklin Morales Earns Chance at Another Start With Dazzling Performance in Emergency

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Franklin Morales Earns Chance at Another Start With Dazzling Performance in EmergencyFranklin Morales didn't receive a decision for his exploits in Sunday's 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.

But he received much more than a simple statistic could reflect. With nine strikeouts through five innings in an emergency spot start for Josh Beckett, Morales earned a tremendous amount of respect in the Red Sox clubhouse.

And maybe, just maybe, he may get future consideration to be groomed as a starter down the road. It's too soon to speculate, considering this marked Morales' first official start since 2009.

Morales certainly made the most of the opportunity. Like a veteran starter, he mixed his pitches well against the Cubs en route to racking up five consecutive strikeouts in a sequence that stretched from the fourth to the fifth inning.

As a result of that dominance, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters in Chicago that Morales would receive another start.

Through it all on Sunday, Morales showcased pinpoint precision with his pitch location. At the end of his five-inning outing, the 26-year-old had unleashed 80 pitches, with 65 of going them for strikes.

Despite the uptick in pitches, the southpaw maintained his velocity at an effective level. His fastball topped out at 96 mph early on, but even as the innings wore on, Morales' heat merely dwindled to 93 mph.

For the night, Morales didn't walk a single batter and yielded just four hits and two runs through five. In reality, the the second run should have been unearned since Dustin Pedroia dropped a pop up in the third inning.

Pedroia's drop –– which occurred after a collision with Darnell McDonald –– would've been the final out of the frame. Instead, it was ruled a double for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro and resulted in a run.

Even so, Morales flummoxed the lineup with his arsenal and mowed down a career-high nine batters. Only Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have fanned as many batters in a start this season. But they only accomplished the deed once.

That's impressive company for Morales, who ascended up the Rockies organization as a starter before being converted to a reliever in 2009. After 4 1/3 scoreless innings in Toronto and three more against the Nationals, this marks the third straight extended outing that Morales has flourished.

He's earning respect, and another start, in the process.

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