Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/29/12

Prince Franklin almost outdueled King Felix.

Making his third start since moving from the Boston Red Sox's bullpen to the rotation, lefty Franklin Morales matched zeros for seven innings Thursday night with Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Morales allowed three hits, struck out seven and threw 109 pitches, his highest total since April 23, 2008, when he was with the Colorado Rockies. He didn't allow a hit until Franklin Gutierrez's leadoff single in the fourth inning and didn't allow a runner into scoring position until the seventh.

Morales just didn't get a victory.

The Red Sox were defeated 1-0 on a walk-off single by pinch hitter John Jaso against reliever Scott Atchison. But the outcome didn't tarnish the way Morales pitched.

"He's been great," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "That's what's frustrating about tonight. He throws the ball like that, and we can't get him one run. I mean, that's tough."

Since the Red Sox traded for him last season, Morales has substituted a splitter for his changeup. He has improved his command, issuing only 2.7 walks per nine innings compared to 5.3 with the Rockies. And since he entered the rotation, he has a 2.00 ERA, and he has struck out 24 batters and walked only three in 18 innings against the Cubs, Braves and Mariners.

And still, the Red Sox weren't sure what they had as recently as spring training.

Morales didn't score high on the shoulder strength tests administered by the training staff, so although he insisted his arm felt fine, he briefly was shut down from throwing, leaving him two weeks behind the rest of the pitchers in camp.

But Morales rallied. He made the team, and when closer Andrew Bailey underwent thumb surgery on the eve of Opening Day, it set off a chain reaction in the bullpen. Alfredo Aceves stepped into the closer role, Mark Melancon faltered badly as the setup man, and Morales suddenly found himself pitching in the seventh and eighth inning, posting a 3.04 ERA in 22 relief appearances.

All along, though, manager Bobby Valentine believed Morales could be effective as a starter. And when the opportunity arose two weeks ago for a Sunday night start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Morales took advantage.

"I don't think anyone can pitch like this all season," Valentine said, "but he's pitched extremely, extremely well. Aggressive in the strike zone, consistent with all three pitches in the strike zone, throwing them at any time in the count. He's pitching in and out and up and down. That's pretty good stuff. That's what you teach."

And, for one night, he was just as good as King Felix.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Stephanie McMahon would love Ronda Rousey to sign with WWE

Carmelo Anthony knows he is being phased out with Knicks

Jerry Jones sets deadline for decision on Tony Romo’s future with Cowboys

Jason Kidd believes Isaiah Thomas is in NBA MVP race

Kyrie Irving takes blame for Cavs’ recent skid: ‘I need to demand more out of myself’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ichiro Suzuki wants to play until age 50

Minute Maid Park doesn’t look the same without Tal’s Hill

Six NFL teams have not renewed their daily fantasy deals

A Chicago Bulls and Jimmer Fredette reunion makes sense

Cardinals may look at a veteran to ultimately replace Carson Palmer

Ottawa Senators visit sick teen during road trip to Minnesota

The 'So, is this the last ride for the Dead Man?' quiz

Athletes in other sports (or famous professions) who played in the NCAA Tournament

2016 MLB playoff teams that won't make it back this season

Box Score 3/29: Free hats (Caps fans only)

The 'Are you mentally prepared for 'One Shining Moment'?' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Serge Ibaka can't connect

Can the Padres' Christian Bethancourt really succeed at pitcher and catcher?

The Raiders will forever belong to Oakland

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Best, worst and hard to stomach MLB offseason moves

Box Score 3/28: Wilt's last game

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Athletes in other sports (or famous professions) who played in the NCAA Tournament

The 'So, is this the last ride for the Dead Man?' quiz

2016 MLB playoff teams that won't make it back this season

The 'Are you mentally prepared for 'One Shining Moment'?' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Serge Ibaka can't connect

Can the Padres' Christian Bethancourt really succeed at pitcher and catcher?

The Raiders will forever belong to Oakland

Best, worst and hard to stomach MLB offseason moves

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker