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Morris endures loss of mentor
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06/26/2002 00:18 am ET 
Morris endures loss of mentor
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com

Matt Morris delivers a pitch against the Brewers on Tuesday. (Elsa/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals lost a friend and teammate with Darryl Kile's untimely death on Saturday. Matt Morris also lost a mentor and his co-ace. Among the many challenges that the team will have to face in the coming days and weeks, that is one of the biggest and toughest.

Even last season, when Morris bloomed into a 22-game winner and the best pitcher on the team, typically he and Kile were referred to as the team's "No. 1 and 1A" starters. Now Morris must bear the burden alone. He will be the guy called on to stop losing streaks. Should the team make the postseason, he will be the one who goes in a series opener. In short, he's the unquestioned No. 1 now; there's no 1A.

"These guys are resilient. These guys are professionals," said center fielder Jim Edmonds. "Matty Mo knows what's on his shoulders."

There won't be many tougher games that Morris has to pitch than the one Tuesday night. There won't be many nights when he has more on his shoulders.

His start against the Brewers came in the team's first home game, and second game anywhere, since Kile's passing. Morris did his best to will the Redbirds to a win, but he couldn't do it alone. The right-hander pitched seven innings and gave up just two runs on six hits, but took the loss in a 2-0 defeat.

"Matt pitched a strong game. (Glendon) Rusch pitched a stronger one," said manager Tony La Russa.


"We're all still in shock over Darryl. We just hope we're all respectful toward his name and his legacy -- and his family, his wife Flynn and his kids, who are suffering right now. They lost a father. And to the organization. Pray for them. Thank you."

-- statement by Matt Morris

Morris himself declined to answer any questions from the media after the game, instead delivering a short statement: "We're all still in shock over Darryl. We just hope we're all respectful toward his name and his legacy -- and his family, his wife Flynn and his kids, who are suffering right now. They lost a father. And to the organization. Pray for them. Thank you."

In the early part of the game, it looked like Morris might make some magic in honor of Kile. Through four innings, he had yet to allow a hit, and had racked up five strikeouts. Few Brewers even got a good swing off of him.

But in the fifth, a few balls went through. Tyler Houston doubled to left center, then Alex Ochoa, Jose Hernandez and Paul Bako singled. Suddenly it was 2-0.

That was all the Brewers got against Morris, but it was enough as St. Louis' bats struggled for the fourth straight game. Rusch saw to that, pitching a shutout.

"It was a difficult night with the (pregame) ceremony and understanding what everybody over there is going through," Rusch said. "I was somewhat relaxed out there tonight, and knowing that you're going to go up against Morris, you're not going to squeeze out too many runs so it was nice to keep a zero up there."

To Morris' credit, he kept it together all night. He has been known at times to have a bad inning, to get mad when things don't go well. And this was a night when he would have been forgiven if he'd been unable to keep his composure. But even the four straight hits weren't a sign of a pitcher losing his cool or trying to do too much. They were just balls that found openings.

    Matt Morris   /   P
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Cardinals site
From the way Morris pitched, at least, you might have thought it was just another game for him. Of course in reality, it was nothing of the kind.

"You see composure and I see how he feels before the game," Edmonds said. "So by no means was he out there, by my words, in 100 percent control of his emotions -- because you can't be. Not 100 percent of the time."

Though clearly still shaken by the loss of their friend and teammate, the Cardinals to a man echoed one theme: they still have a job to do, no matter how tough it might be. Morris epitomized that as well as any Cardinal has yet in these two extremely difficult games.

"I'm sure it was extremely difficult (for him)," said reliever Mike Timlin, who pitched a perfect eighth. "But as DK put it, we've got work to do."

Matthew Leach covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. This article was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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