Morrison lighting an offensive fire in September

Morrison lighting an offensive fire in September

HOUSTON -- Although Logan Morrison's game-winning three-run blast in Thursday's dramatic 3-1 win in Anaheim looms as one of the biggest hits in recent club history given its potential impact on the Mariners' playoff hopes, the 27-year-old first baseman has been more than just a one-hit wonder in recent weeks.

Morrison took over the starting first-base duties from Justin Smoak in mid-June but didn't really catch fire offensively until August. But in his last 42 games, he has hit .311 with an .842 OPS to raise his season numbers to .251 and .703, respectively.

Thursday's blast gives Morrison nine home runs and 33 RBIs for the season, and much of that production has come with runners in scoring position, a situation in which he's hit .360 with four doubles, three homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.013 OPS since June 20.

Morrison has been especially locked in this month, batting .333 with eight runs, five doubles, three homers and six RBIs with a 1.088 OPS in 14 September games.

Manager Lloyd McClendon challenged Morrison earlier in the season to work on some specific things to become a better hitter, and the results have been positive.

"He's done a great job," McClendon said. "It's not all 'I love you, and you love me' over the course of a 162-game schedule. Sometimes you have to say things to motivate players. I think they respect what I say because they know I care about them. Sometimes the message is a little tough, but it still has to be sent. And I'm not just talking about Morrison, but all of our players from time to time. You do what you've got to do. He's starting to fulfill my expectations for him."

Morrison was a well-regarded prospect with the Marlins and had a big rookie season in 2011, with 23 homers and 72 RBIs in 123 games, but knee problems derailed his last two years in Miami, and he was traded to Seattle for reliever Carter Capps last winter.

Now the Kansas City native is just thrilled to be playing big games for a new team that seems to have found a home for him in its lineup.

"It's been a struggle for us offensively at times, but we have a bunch of guys here that don't know how to quit," Morrison said. "That's not in their vocabulary. I'm just happy to be part of this team."

Morrison said he "floated" around the bases after his go-ahead homer, which he acknowledged was probably the biggest hit of his career. Now he's just looking forward to even bigger games as the American League Wild Card race comes down to its final days.

"This is awesome," he said. "This is what you dream about as a kid. I'm just so happy and blessed to be part of it. Let's just keep it going. We don't care how we do it, let's just keep it going."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.