If Rays pitcher Charlie Morton puts his left sock on before his right or shows up to stretch at 5:38 instead of 5:37, he’s still confident he can get batters out.
Entering his 11th season in the majors, Morton doesn’t worry about much and doesn’t put too much thought into the ups and downs of spring ball.
So when plunked two of the first batters he faced in his second start of the spring on Wednesday — a 9-6 Rays loss to Baltimore — he simply regained control and forced a double play to get out of the inning unscathed.
“I try not to look at the results,” said Morton, who signed as a free agent this offseason. “It’s more of how I was feeling, how’s the ball coming out, feel for pitches. I try not to over evaluate.”
The first pitch came down and in on Baltimore’s Trey Mancini. Morton said his arm dragged and he lost the pitch trying to be a little more aggressive.
The second came on the next at-bat against Chance Cisco. Morton tried freezing him on the corner, but got him in the leg instead.
“Once you establish yourself in the zone you usually try to make more aggressive pitches and that’s what happened,” Morton said. “It’s a difficult pitch to make. I’ve gotta work on it and unfortunately it resulted in me hitting them.”
Morton pitched 2 1/3 innings, throwing 39 pitches with two strikeouts and no runs earned.
“I think that’s what makes him special is the very next at bat, he’s able to get a ground ball pretty simply,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We don’t have a ton of guys who are built that way. Charlie is, and the veteran approach of not letting the inning speed up and making your pitches.”
The Rays’ pitching kept runs off the board for the first four innings and the offense scored three in the third.
Guillermo Heredia was hit by a pitch with bases loaded, bringing home Ji-Man Choi. Then Michael Perez walked, bringing in Avisail Garcia and Kean Wong grounded into a force out and Willy Adames scored.
Reliever Yonny Chorinos gave up three earned in the top of the fifth off two homers from Anthony Cantander and Cedric Muller.
The Rays added two in the bottom of the inning, but the Baltimore offense took it from there. They scored six runs over the final two innings to grab the win.