ARLINGTON, Texas -- Recently acquired reliever Bryan Morris ended up picking up his first victory in a Marlins uniform Tuesday night by picking up four big outs between the sixth and seventh innings.
Morris, acquired from the Pirates at the beginning of the month for a 2014 draft pick, has been stellar since the Marlins got him. He's pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts, no walks and only three hits allowed.
"You always want to start off with a new team and start off well," Morris said. "It's easier to become part of the team. It's always a different situaton when you come to a new team and you don’t know the guys, so getting off to a good start helps."
A 2006 first round pick of the Dodgers who had Tommy John surgery coming out of college, Morris said he spent a lot of time in the off-season strengthening his shoulder muscles with a specially designed workout first used by tennis players and most recently Blue Jays All-Star reliever Steve Delabar.
Morris said it's helped increase his velocity "a few ticks."
"It was something to make my sholder more stable so I can throw every day," Morris said. "It's based on decelerator muscles in the back of your shoulder -- that and strengthening all the small muscle so they can help the large muscles endure some of the stress that your arm goes through while throwing.
"Last year I probably was really consistent around 94 [miles per hour]. Ive seen a lot more 95s and 96s this year. Last year I would hit 95 every now and then and 96 on occasion. Later in the year I ran it up to 97 a couple times in the playoffs. I've hit 97 a few times this year and I've hit 98 a couple times. 98 is what I used to flirt with before Tommy John in 2006."
HAPPY HOMECOMING FOR RAMOS
Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos, who grew up a Rangers fan and played for Texas Tech, had more than 150 friends and family members in the stands Tuesday night when he made his first pitching appearance in the state of Texas since getting drafted by the Marlins in 2009.
Ramos pitched a clean eighth inning of relief and struckout the first batter he faced.
"Man it was awesome," Ramos said. "If you were out here you heard how many people were out there, especially when they announced my name. It was kind of crazy. I heard it from all around the stadium."
Ramos said he as espeically happy to see his grandmother, Olga, in the stands. He said he lived across from his grandparents in Lubbock, Texas and said Olga and his late grandfather were his biggest fans growing up.
"She hadn't seen me pitch since college," Ramos said. "She’s been taking care of her dad. He’s 107 years old. It’s a 24/7 job and she doesn’t get to leave the house very often. So for her coming out here to Dallas is like a mini vacation to see me pitch."
Ramos said his father organized a group of about 94 people, who all sat in one section to cheer him on. Ramos said his mother has 11 brothers and sisters and thus he has "about 60 cousins." Most made the 5 1/2 hour trek from Lubbock to see him pitch.
"All of the 94 people in the same section were related," Ramos said. "The people in other sectoins were friends. If we were even closer to Lubbock I think the whole town would have come to the game."
YELICH SEEING RESULTS
Manager Mike Redmond said he hasn't seen a whole lot different in Christian Yelich's approach at the plate. Just better results of late.
After going hitless in four games from June 2nd to June 5th, Yelich has gone 9 for 20 with three doubles, a homer and five RBI over his last four games entering Wednesday.
"I think his approach overall has been pretty good," Redmond said. "He's hit some line drives right at guys, some ground balls. The key to him is to continue to stay within his approach. When he gets good pitches to hit he usually hits them. I think you saw that last night.
"A lot of it is confidence. Sometimes we lose sight -- even though I try to remind everyone -- this is his first full season in the big leagues. Everybody gets caught up in the numbers and the batting average. That stuff for me really doesn't matter. This is his first full go-around in the big leagues. There's a lot of pressure on him to go out and produce. But I've been very happy with what he's been able to go out there and do. He's led off all year in a position where we didn't expect him to be leading off. I think he's done a nice job. I think he's learned a lot. And I think he's continued to improve.
"And you know what he's a gamer. He's a grinder. This is going to be huge for him in the process of him becoming a great player. He brings it everyday. He never comes into my office and asks for a day off. He wants to be out there to play. I was happy for him to go out there and put together a multi-hit game, a big game. It was fun to see him that. We needed that too."