Secretariat threw five innings for the Red Sox yesterday

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Josh Beckett’s shoulder injury left the Red Sox needing a fill-in starter yesterday and rather than call someone up from the minors they turned to Franklin Morales, who’d only pitched out of the bullpen since arriving in Boston last year and hadn’t started a game since April 21, 2009.

Morales had thrown more than 40 pitches in appearance just once all season, yet he tossed 80 pitches in five innings of two-run ball against the Cubs while striking out nine and walking zero.

It was a helluva performance, especially on short notice and after being strictly a reliever for more than three years. Or as teammate Vicente Padilla put it afterward: “He was a horse. Secretariat.”

Bobby Valentine told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that he “had a hunch” Morales would come through with a solid effort and the manager indicated that he may stick in the rotation with Beckett on the disabled list.

(Side note: We’re all agreed that “Secretariat” is Morales’ new nickname for life, right? Has to be.)