LoMo makes most of chance to have impact
HOUSTON -- It wasn't the easiest situation in a season that hasn't gone quite according to plan for Logan Morrison. Coming off the bench to pinch-hit in a tie game, top of the eighth, against side-arming sinkerballer Pat Neshek.
But Morrison, who has largely lost his playing time at first base in the second half of the season to Jesus Montero and Mark Trumbo, worked the count to 2-0 and then hammered a game-deciding two-run homer to right field in the Mariners' 7-5 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.
"The hardest thing is mentally just trying to be professional, encourage the guys to keep going and not worrying about whether I'm playing today or why I'm not playing today," Morrison said. "Just be ready and try to help these guys win any way I can."
Morrison has tried to chip in by watching opposing pitchers, talking strategy and encouraging teammates. But no doubt, it was more fun to help in a tangible way Tuesday with the winning blow for a team that had lost seven of its previous eight games at Minute Maid Park this season by a combined score of 57-26.
"That was a lot of fun, especially here with the success they've had against us," he said. "Kind of exorcise the demons a little bit. Then we turned it over to [Carson Smith] and [Tom Wilhelmsen], and I like our chances when that happens. They've done a great job for us. I don't think there's any question who our closer is now."
Wilhelmsen sealed the deal for his seventh save after Smith stranded a runner at third with three straight strikeouts in the eighth. That was a strong finish for a beleaguered bullpen, but none of that would have been possible without LoMo's go-ahead blast.
Morrison hit just .204 in August and is at .221 for the season, but his 14 homers are his most since 2011, when he launched 23 for the Marlins.
"He's starting to swing the bat better," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He had a tough stretch there where nothing was working for him. But obviously it doesn't get any bigger than a pinch-hit home run to win the game."
Trumbo, who launched a 464-foot bomb in the fourth inning, admired the handiwork of his fellow first baseman.
"I couldn't be happier for him," Trumbo said. "That's huge, especially off the bench. That's one of the hardest things you can ask somebody to do, watch the game for seven or eight innings and then go out there and put up a quality at-bat, and he did just that."
Morrison's ball was projected at 401 feet by Statcast™, but had the same velocity off the bat as Trumbo's monster blast as both were measured at 112 mph. Which led to a friendly competition between the two big men.
"We're going to have to look at the Statcast™ to see whose was harder, but he definitely hit his further," Morrison said with a smile. "His might have gone a lot further if it didn't hit the train. You hit the choo choo, you get a woo woo."
But for Morrison, his ball went plenty far enough to win the game.
"It doesn't matter how far it goes to me," he said. "It all counts the same."