Mariners’ Morse has a different focus

SEATTLE — In the offseason the Seattle Mariners acquired Michael Morse in a trade from the Washington Nationals to provide some power to the lineup.

Seven games into the season he is fulfilling that role.

Going into Monday’s games, Morse leads the American League with five home runs after his first seven games and is tied with Atlanta’s Justin Upton for the major league lead. But despite his early-season success, Morse was still focused on the M’s returning from the season-opening road stand with a sub-.500 record

“Any time you can get out the gates going (is nice),” Morse said. “But you know the bigger picture is our goal is to come back home at least .500; 3-4 is good. It’s right there.”

In Sunday’s game against Chicago, Morse struck out three times with runners in scoring position, including to end the top of the 10th inning. While he’d like to continue his power surge, he said he’s got a different focus while standing in the batter’s box.

“I’m going to try to hit some ground balls up the middle,” Morse said. “Those score runs.”

Maurer eager for second start

Brandon Maurer’s first major league start was hardly a dream debut. He took the loss, giving up eight hits and six earned runs, but with start No. 2 scheduled tonight, the rookie right-hander thinks he’ll be better for those struggles in last week’s game against the A’s.

“It was nerve-wracking, but it was a chance to learn,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself and what I need to do. I leaned that there definitely needs to be a lot of focus on every pitch at this level, and the execution of pitches is going to be huge.”

And even thought the final numbers weren’t good, Maurer did have a good stretch. He retired 10 of 11 batters he faced after a first-inning home run. Things got away from Maurer in the sixth when he gave up three runs, but he was glad manager Eric Wedge let him finish the inning.

“It was nice,” he said. “It was good to finish that out. I don’t think it had sunk in yet, but going through video after it and looking through some stuff, it was like, all right, the pitches were close. They had some good hits, but it was definitely a cool experience.”

In start No. 2, Maurer say he’ll be “slightly” more settled, but added, “I’m still going to have nerves going into it, but it will be nice to go out there and have one under my belt and be ready to go this time.”

Moyer’s first pitch

The Mariners welcomed back a familiar face Monday night to throw the ceremonial first pitch before their home opener against the Houston Astros, former starting pitcher Jamie Moyer.

He is the Mariners franchise record holder in wins (145), starts (323) and innings pitched (2,093).

“It’s a pleasure to be here tonight. It’s a great opportunity the Mariners have given me to throw out the first pitch at the home opener here in 2013,” Moyer said. “… It’s always great to come back and see some faces, faces I haven’t seen in a while.”

One of those faces was former M’s catcher Dan Wilson, who caught Moyer’s pitch that was low and off the plate.

Moyer, 50, who made his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs in 1986, pitched for the Colorado Rockies last season. He is not currently under contract with a major league team, but when asked, said he hasn’t ruled out a return to baseball.

“I haven’t closed that door yet,” Moyer said.

David Krueger and John Boyle, Herald Writers

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