SEATTLE — First baseman Logan Morrison extended his hitting streak to 12 games when he returned Friday to the Seattle Mariners’ lineup — the top of the lineup, in fact — after getting scratched Thursday because of back pain.
“It just tightened up on me,” he said. “Got stiff. I’m not sure why. I was just swinging in the cage, and I felt some pain in lower back. I tried to get it loosened up, but it just wasn’t loosening up.
“They gave me some medicine and some patches to put on it. Everything feels good.”
Morrison is on a 15-for-45 run (.333) over his hitting streak, which boosted his average climbed from .219 to .246 in that span. He replaced center fielder Austin Jackson as the leadoff hitter.
Jackson wasn’t in the lineup for the first time since returning May 26 from a 19-game absence due to a sprained right ankle.
“He’s been going at it pretty good,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I figured it’s just a good time to give him a day. (Jackson’s ankle) is a little stiff before he gets it going. But once he gets it going, he’s OK.
“We’ve got to be careful with him.”
Jackson entered the game as a pinch-runner in seventh inning and, in his only at-bat, had a leadoff triple in the ninth inning. But the Mariners let the opportunity slip away in a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay
Jackson is batting .326 in in 11 games since he returned, which has boosted his season average to .270. Further, he doesn’t appeared to be limited by his ankle.
“It’s holding up pretty good,” he said. “Everything has been feeling good with it. I’ve been staying on my routine with it every day. I think that helps a lot with getting it loose.
“I haven’t had any setbacks or any problems with it.”
WHO’S ON FIRST?
Mark Trumbo has spent more time at first base than any other position in his six-year career, but he had played there only once this season before drawing an emergency start Thursday as a replacement for Morrison.
“Over there (in Arizona),” Trumbo said, “they wanted me to focus on right field. They had a few other guys they could mix in over there. I’ll have to get a little more re-acclimated.”
Trumbo said it came back quickly.
“No problem,” he said. “I played over there for eight or nine years.”
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma reported no day-after problems following a bullpen workout Thursday that marked his first time on a mound since his April 20 start against Houston.
Iwakuma suffered a strained back muscle in his day-after throwing session following that start. Specifically, he has a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle.
Plans call for Iwakuma to throw another bullpen session prior to Sunday’s series finale against Tampa Bay. He will then remain in Seattle to continue his recovery when the club departs on an eight-game trip.
Iwakuma is tentatively scheduled for a third bullpen workout next Wednesday before, barring setbacks, pitching a simulated game. McClendon said that simulated game could take place in Tacoma or at Safeco Field.
Club officials will then determined whether Iwakuma requires a second simulated game before departing on a minor-league rehab assignment. He is expected to make at least two rehab starts before rejoining the rotation.
SEAGER ON THE RISE
Hidden in the Mariners’ ongoing run-production problems, Kyle Seager is surging at the plate with a .337 average over his last 22 games.
Seager is 28-for-83 in that span, which raised his average from .238 to .278. He also has five homers and 21 RBIs, which boosts his season totals to nine and 29.
That puts him on pace to finish with 27 homers and 87 RBIs.
There were 13 AL relievers, entering Friday, who had appeared in 10 games and logged an ERA of 1.29 or lower.
The Mariners had three of them:
***Mark Lowe, an 0.61 ERA in 14 appearances.
***Carson Smith, a 1.17 ERA in 24 appearances.
***Charlie Furbush, a 1.29 ERA in 23 appearances.
Four clubs have two relievers in the group: Detroit, Houston, Kansas City and New York. Baltimore and Cleveland each have one.
It was 36 years ago Saturday — June 6, 1979 — that Willie Horton hit his 300th career homer in a 4-3 victory over Detroit at the Kingdome.
Horton became, at the time, the 43rd player in history to reach that milestone when he launched a two-run shot in the first inning against Jack Morris.
Mariners starter Floyd Bannister gave up three runs in the first inning on a homer by Rusty Staub. But Bannister, Shane Rawley and Byron McLaughlin blanked the Tigers thereafter.
Larry Cox’s sacrifice fly in the sixth provided the winning run. Mario Mendoza went 0-for-3, which dropped his average to .183 — 17 points below the Mendoza Line.
The Mariners and Rays continue their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Felix Hernandez (8-2, 2.63) will face Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Colome (3-2, 5.05).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.