CHICAGO – Logan Morrison took on the media while sitting, not standing, in front of his clubhouse stall following Thursday’s game.
“I’ve been playing for five hours,” he said with a smile.
Pooped, but relieved, the Twins first baseman did what he wants to do more of — contribute to wins with big hits.
Forget the Mendoza line, Morrison has been threatening to establish a new lower standard for struggling hitters — he was batting .187 entering Thursday. But he crushed a 440-foot home run in the seventh inning, then hit a two-out double in the 13th that eventually led to the winning run as the Twins edged the White Sox 2-1 in a 13-inning game in which the teams combined to go 0-for-24 with runners in scoring position.
Someone was going to be unhappy about losing this game, with so many runners left on the bases.
“That was a good one to win for sure,” he said. “Not only because we lost the first two [games of the series] but because it was a marathon.”
The Twins avoided being swept in the three-game series. They improved to 3-5 in extra-inning games and 4-13 in one-run games, a test of a team’s ability to grind out wins. This was their first one-run victory since May 11 on the road vs. the Angels.
Morrison has been working on his swing with hitting coach James Rowson, with one objective being to straighten out the line drives he’s pulled foul. The ball he hit in the seventh, on a 3-2 fastball from Lucas Giolito, stayed very true as it sailed to the top of the right field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season. It was just the Twins’ second hit of the game at the time, as Giolito shook off a 26-pitch first to throw 5⅓ hitless innings.
“Tiring,” Morrison described the at-bat. “He’s pretty tough man. He throws strikes. He’s got good stuff. I was just trying to get him to the big part of the plate, have a good swing, good pace. Put the barrel on it. He’s got really long arms. It feels like he’s releasing it on top of you. Being able to slow him down a little bit, his velocity was key.”
The Twins offense could benefit from more power, which was why Morrison was signed as free agent Feb. 28. He hit a career high 38 homers last season for Tampa Bay but has struggled to make contact at times and has been foiled by extreme shifts.
Manager Paul Molitor has repeatedly said Morrison’s struggles aren’t from a lack of work — and Thursday provided tangible proof.
That run on Morrison’s homer looked like it was going to hold up when Fernando Rodney retired the first two batters of the ninth inning. But he then gave up a single, hit a batter and walked the next two to force in the tying run, ending his streak of converting 15 consecutive saves.
“I told him postgame that’s a heck of a run,” Molitor said. “Unblemished for quite a while, and clean.”
Former Twins lefthander Hector Santiago retired the first two batters of the 13th inning before Morrison , who hit an extra-inning homer off Santiago last year for Tampa Bay, hit a double off the glove of White Sox left fielder Charlie Tilson. Ehire Adrianza was walked intentionally, but lefthanded hitters Jake Cave and Max Kepler each drew walks after that, forcing home Morrison with the winning run.
And ending a day of positive reinforcement for LoMo as he searches for his MoJo.
“I saw a couple frustrated swings where he fouled them back and there may have been some good pitches to hit, but you’ve got to feel a little bit positive about hitting one 9 miles and then battling and hitting one out to the gap there.” Molitor said. “… Just looking for small increments of improvement.”