Morrison’s walkoff blast gives M’s another shot at a turning point

May 9, 2015, 1:01 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm
Logan Morrison has recovered from a slow start, hitting four of his five homers since May 1. (AP)...
Logan Morrison has recovered from a slow start, hitting four of his five homers since May 1. (AP)

The Mariners have spent the first month of the baseball season looking for a turning point.

They’ve had moments and chances, yet nothing has led to a much-needed prolonged winning streak, evidenced by a standing of six games under .500 they brought back to Seattle to start a nine-game homestand on Friday.

After a 4-3 come-from-behind win in 11 innings over Oakland to begin that homestand, Seattle has another opportunity to make a key moment into a turning point. The moment itself: Logan Morrison’s walkoff home run to right-center field, a no-doubter coming off the only pitch Oakland Athletics reliever Dan Otero threw on the night.

Baseball isn’t just about moments, however, but also sustained success. So once again it’s up to the Mariners to make sure Morrison’s shot into the night becomes the mark where it all turns around.

If it does happen, the plot is set up nicely.

Despite back-to-back losses on bullpen collapses to end their last road trip in Anaheim, the Mariners have looked like a much more competent team as of late. Though each phase of the game has shined at various times for the squad, they hadn’t been able hit on all cylinders all at once. And that’s why the way they opened the three-game set with Oakland has momentum-building potential – they pulled it off with great plays on defense, a strong five-inning outing by young starter Taijuan Walker, six scoreless frames from the bullpen, and big hits with runners in scoring position by Brad Miller and Robinson Cano that tied the game in the seventh.

And then there’s Morrison, who appears to have recovered from a brutal start to the season. With Friday’s game-winner, Morrison now has five homers on the season, four of which have come since May 1. He’s also bumped his average up from .149 on April 28 to .245 after a 2-for-5 performance vs. the A’s.

The 27-year-old first baseman may not be the most recognizable player on the team, but what he does at the plate to supplement the output of Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager could end up making a huge difference for Seattle in 2015.

More than any other player on the roster, Morrison has seemed to be the victim of tough outs, flying out to the warning track or hitting hard liners right at defenders. Luckily he’s kept a sense of humor about it all.

“If that didn’t go, I was probably just going to quit,” he joked about his 432-foot blast.

Then again, Morrison doesn’t believe he was just getting robbed left and right for the first few weeks of the season, either.

“The tough part was the bad at-bats that were mixed in,” he said. “I wouldn’t that say I was hitting the ball extremely hard; I was hitting it hard sometimes and they were getting caught. That’s how you hit .100 for the first three weeks or whatever … (My at-bats are) being more consistent now. Staying behind the ball better, getting it in the air, so all the hard-hit balls that I do have, if they’re in the air they’re probably a homer.”

In a way, those comments can serve as a metaphor for the Mariners so far in 2015. They’ve had some tough luck in addition to perplexing struggles, and a tough schedule has made it hard for them to keep their heads above water. A three-game sweep in Texas last week gave way to four straight losses against Houston, a series where Seattle looked to be a victim of both a red-hot Astros team and problems of their own design. But the signs of a winning ballclub have been there. Sometimes it just takes a turning point to start putting it all together.

No starting pitcher.

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Morrison’s walkoff blast gives M’s another shot at a turning point