The 5,596 fans at Franklin Quest Field Thursday night: A) witnessed a miserable offensive performance by the hometown team; B) were treated to a brilliant pitching by a visiting player; or C) both of the above.
There is no definitive correct answer, but it's safe to say Keith Morrison, a 24-year-old pitcher, had the Salt Lake Buzz's number. Morrison hurled a rare PCL complete game to lead the Vancouver Canadians to a 5-1 victory. The Buzz, who were shut out Wednesday, managed just five hits Thursday."It was just too much Morrison," said Buzz manager Phil Roof. "He had good control of his pitches and kept us off balance. He was just on a roll."
The loss drops Salt Lake to 3-4, the first time the team has been below .500 this season. Vancouver improved to 3-4.
Morrison (2-0), who has the only two complete games in the PCL this year, gave up four hits in the first three innings, but then retired 18 straight Buzz batters before hitting Bernardo Brito with a pitch and surrendering a double to Steve Hazlett with two outs in the ninth.
"I just wanted to go seven innings," Morrison said. "I just taking it one pitch at a time, one hitter at a time and before I knew it, it was the ninth inning."
For the second night in a row, the Canadians didn't allow a walk. Morrison, meanwhile, struck out six.
"I got a lot of first pitch outs, stayed ahead of the batters and didn't go deep in the count," Morrison said.
Said Roof, "(Morrison) got stronger as the game went on. His fastball got better. He didn't make any mistakes with his fastball at all."
The Canadians took the lead in the third inning when shortstop Brian Grebeck hit a solo home run to left off Salt Lake starter Mike Misuraca. Grebeck seems to enjoy playing at Franklin Quest Field. He had just two homers all of last season and both were in Salt Lake's new ballpark.
The Buzz knotted the score with their first run in 15 innings. Dan Masteller hit a two-out double and then scored on a close play at home on a single to right by Riccardo Ingram.
Misuraca (0-1) gave up just four hits with no walks in his first five innings of work, but the Canadians used three hits and two walks to plate three runs in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead.
"I was tickled with how (Misuraca) pitched until that three-run inning," Roof said. "He pitched well, he just had one bad inning."
An error by Buzz first baseman Ben Shelton led to an unearned Vancouver insurance run in the eighth off Buzz reliever Matt Stevens.
While the Buzz bats have been silent of late, Roof is not about to start panicking.
"I'm not worried," he said. "It's a long season."
The Buzz and Canadians will conclude the series tonight at 7. Marc Barcelo (0-1) will be on the mound for Salt Lake against Vancouver's Korey Keling (0-0). Saturday the Buzz will begin another four-game home series, this time against the Phoenix Firebirds.
BUZZ BRIEFS: Ingram has hit safely in all seven games and is the only Buzz batter presently among the PCL's top 10 in hitting, with a .387 average . . . Salt Lake has scored just one run in the last 22 innings . . . Ex-Buzzman Marty Cordova hit a home run in the Minnesota Twins' first exhibition game in Florida Thursday. Cordova, who has yet to play in an official major league game, is expected to challenge for the Twins' starting left field job this season.