Michael Morse has four home runs in Mariners' first four games
With his solo shot in the sixth inning, Morse became the first Mariner since Ken Griffey Jr. to hit four homers in the first four games of the season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
OAKLAND, Calif. — One more massive swing by Michael Morse on Thursday helped him accomplish something only Ken Griffey Jr. had previously done in a Mariners uniform.
Morse hit his fourth home run in the past three games, a no-doubt shot to left field leading off the sixth inning against Athletics starter A.J. Griffin. That made him the only Mariners player to hit four home runs over the first four games of a season other than Griffey, who did it during the 1997 season.
Other than a couple of missed pitches, Morse said he's seeing the ball well and his timing is where he wants it to be. A good sign is that the latest home run was actually Morse's first one pulled to left field, while two were hit to center and another to right.
"I hit the ball where it's pitched," said Morse, who earlier in the game had hit a long single one-hopped off the right-field wall. "So, if they pitch it away, I'm going to try to hit it away. That pitch (on Thursday) was in, so I hit it in. I don't go up there trying to pull everything."
On Tuesday, Morse became the first Mariners player to hit two home runs in a game while playing two different outfield positions. He began the game in right field, but later switched to left.
David Bell was the first Mariners player to accomplish that feat, having done so Aug. 23, 2001 while playing first and third bases.
The rest of Morse's team is still lagging a bit in the power department. Morse has four of the team's five home runs, with Franklin Gutierrez hitting the only other long ball after a spring in which the Mariners led the majors in homers.
"I think if you ask any of the guys right now, we're not thinking about spring any more," Morse said. "That's over with. Now, we're just adjusting to the season, which is a whole other ballgame."
Wedge remembers his debut
On the day Brandon Maurer made his big-league debut, Mariners manager Eric Wedge reminisced about his first big-league at-bat on Oct. 5, 1991. Wedge had been up with the Boston Red Sox for most of September but had yet to get in a game until his team trailed 13-4 in the ninth to the Milwaukee Brewers on the second-to-last day of the season.
But that at-bat might never have happened had Wedge's veteran teammate, Jack Clark, not intervened with manager Joe Morgan. Wedge said Clark "basically told the manager he wasn't going to hit and I was going to hit. So, if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have gotten that first AB in 1991. That was something that he didn't tell me because he was a class act. But my teammates did."
Wedge lined a single to center field off relief pitcher Chris George.
• The Mariners earlier this week became the first team to open the season by limiting their opponents to three hits or fewer in back-to-back games since the Cincinnati Reds in 1970. Oakland had just three hits in Monday's 2-0 loss to the Mariners and in Tuesday's 7-1 defeat.
• Mariners coaches spoke before the game with officials in charge of preparing baseballs. Several Mariners pitchers said after Wednesday night's game they had difficulty gripping the ball, though no such complaints were made Thursday.
• Gutierrez has hit safely in all four games, going 4 for 12 (.333) after a single and a walk on Thursday.