ANAHEIM, Calif. — So is it all in the Boomstick?
Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison had three more hits in Tuesday’s wrenching walk-off loss to the Angels and…well, how long are you willing to believe in coincidences?
Morrison is, entering Wednesday’s series finale, 13-for-26 with seven extra-base hits in seven games since borrowing one of Nelson Cruz’s bats, i.e., a Boomstick.
“Yeah, but I don’t think it’s the bat, necessarily,” Morrison said through a smile. “But I’ll let you guys say whatever because I don’t really care.”
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So this isn’t a Roy Hobbs/Wonderboy parallel?
“Ah, but it wasn’t about Wonderboy, either,” Morrison countered. “He got a new one and hit a homer after that.”
Well, that’s what happened in the movie version. The ending in Bernard Malamud’s novel is considerably darker.
All that matters, really, is Morrison raised his average nearly 100 points in his seven-game surge, from .149 to .247, and his slugging percentage spiked from .194 to .430.
“I’m just staying behind the ball better,” he said. “Once my front foot hits, I’m able to rotate instead of (leaning) toward the pitcher.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon credited Morrison’s hot streak to the law of averages.
“He swung the bat well before that,” McClendon said. “They were just making plays on him. It’s amazing, you get positive results, and guys’ confidence skyrockets.”
“Success breeds success,” he said. “I’m not worried about a first-pitch sinker on the outside corner, if he calls it a strike. I know I’m going to get a better pitch to hit. And I’m not going to miss it.”
And yet…the Mariners rank 12th among the 15 American League clubs in runs scored and last in on-base percentage. Cruz has been their best hitter. Now, Morrison is heating up.
Should some other players maybe look into using Boomsticks?
“I’ve already ordered them,” McClendon said.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen is one step closer to returning to active duty after experiencing no problems while pitching one simulated inning prior to Wednesday’s game.
“The ball feels good in my hand,” he said. “I’m happy with all of my pitches. Just free and easy. That was the main objective today.”
Wilhelmsen is recovering from a hyperextended right elbow, which he suffered in an April 11 pre-game conditioning workout in Oakland. He threw two bullpen workouts last week as a buildup to the simulated game.
“He’s been free and easy the whole time since he started throwing,” pitching coach Rick Waits said. “I think that’s they key. No irritation. No setbacks. He’s just felt great.”
Club officials will determine Wilhelmsen’s next step following a day-after evaluation but, barring setbacks, he remains on track for a mid-May return.
***Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is throwing 70 feet in his recovery from a strained back muscle. He isn’t expected to be game-ready for at least two more weeks and will then require a minor-league rehab assignment.
Robinson Cano recently collected the 3,000th total base of his career and became just the sixth player in major-league history to do so while playing at least 95 percent of his games at second base.
Cano entered Wednesday at 3,004, which ranked 14th among all active players. Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez is the active leader at 5,523, while Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is second at 4,712.
The other five (nearly) full-time second basemen with 3,000:
Roberto Alomar (4,018 from 1998-2004); Joe Morgan (3,962, 1963-84); Lou Whitaker (3,651, 1977-95) Nellie Fox (3,347, 1947-65) and Bobby Doerr (3,270, 1937-51).
Just missing the list: Bret Boone with 2,953 from 1992-2005.
NOT-SO MAGIC NUMBERS
The Mariners, a year ago, were nearly unbeatable — 55-4, to be exact — when they scored five or more runs. Further, they were 67-12 when they scored at least four runs.
What a change a year makes.
The Mariners, through Tuesday, were 4-5 when they scored five or more runs…yes, they’ve already lost more games this season when scoring at least five runs than they did all of last year.
And after Tuesday’s 5-4 walk-off loss to the Angels, the Mariners were 5-7 when they scored four or more runs.
ADJUSTING THE ODDS
Think the Mariners are poised for a big rebound from their disappointing start? Then now might be the time to pony up.
The odds that the Mariners will win the World Series are now 33/1 in the latest posting from www.Bovada.lv, the online gaming site. Those odds were 12/1 on April 1.
The top four teams in the updated odds: the Los Angeles Dodgers at 6/1; St. Louis at 7/1; Detroit at 15/2; and Kansas City at 9/1.
Bovada now sees Houston as the favorites to win the American League West Division at 9/5. Los Angeles is second at 12/5, followed by Oakland at 5/1, the Mariners at 6/1 and Texas at 33/1.
The Mariners were 5/4 favorites on April 1.
MORE ADJUSTED ODDS
The news from Bovada isn’t entirely bleak for the Mariners.
Felix Hernandez is now rated an 11/10 favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award. Houston’s Dallas Keuchel is the second choice at 5/1, followed by Oakland’s Sonny Gray at 6/1.
And Nelson Cruz’s big start boosted his odds of being the AL Most Valuable Player to 9/2. That makes him the No. 3 choice behind Los Angeles outfielder Mike Trout (9/5) and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera (7/2).
The current Mariners often struggle with runners in scoring position, but…
It was 17 years ago Thursday — May 7, 1998 — that the Mariners tied a major-league record by stranding 16 runners in a shutout loss when they fell 6-0 to Toronto at the Kingdome.
The Mariners were 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position against Roger Clemens, an old nemesis, and Paul Quantrill.
The Mariners allowed 15 homers in their first five May games after yielding just 14 throughout April in 22 games…Through Tuesday, the Mariners were 9-2 in games started by Felix Hernandez (6-0) and J.A. Happ (3-2). They were 2-14 whenever anyone else started.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before starting a nine-game homestand Friday with the first of three weekend games against Oakland at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker (1-3, 8.74) looks for a bounce-back effort from a rough start at Houston in a match-up against A’s ace Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.67) at 7:10 p.m. Friday in the series opener.
You can see the game on Root Sports and hear it on 710 ESPN.