By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
CHICAGO — Michael Morse is going to be aggressive at the plate. He wants hit the ball and hit it a long ways. So far that aggressiveness has been good and bad for the big slugger.
The good has come in the form of home runs. In the first inning of Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, Morse jumped on a slider from White Sox starter Chris Sale and ripped it into the left field stands of U.S. Cellular Field for a two-run homer.
It was his fifth homer of the season, tying him for the most in the big leagues with Atlanta’s Justin Upton.
But after that home run, Morse struck out four straight times in the game — giving him a team-high 10 for the season. Three of the four came with runners in scoring position, and two of them ended the inning. It tied a career high.
“They are feeding off my aggressiveness right now,” he said. “I just need to relax up there a little bit and zone up a little more. Stay aggressive but under control.”
Morse wasn’t the only Mariner who failed in that situation. The Mariners were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.
Morse has a hit in every game this season for a .310 batting average and has driven in eight runs.
The Mariners showed hints of the offense they can be this season. They’ve hit nine homers so far and players are taking more walks than before. But the consistency isn’t quite there yet.
“I think we are definitely underachieving to what we are capable of doing, but it’s early,” Morse said. “It’s the first week of baseball. We’ve showed signs of what we are capable of doing. No one has really clicked yet, but there’s a lot baseball left to be played.”
Smoak’s double attempt
Justin Smoak hit the ball too hard. The big first baseman ripped a line drive to left field to start the seventh inning.
A lead-off double would have been a nice way for the Mariners add to their 3-2 lead at the time.
However, the ball bounced hard on the warning track and off the wall right back into the glove of glove of left fielder Dayan Viciedo, who wheeled and fired the ball to second base in one motion. The throw was perfect and beat Smoak by several steps. What should have been a double was an out.
“I was thinking two out of the box right away,” Smoak said. “I’m not the fastest guy, but when you hit it that hard and it bounces right back to him, there isn’t much you can do,”
Smoak finished the day 1-for-3 with a walk.