PHOENIX — Michael Morse hit two home runs on Thursday night to extend what everyone thought at the time was an 18-game hitting streak — the longest current streak in the major leagues.
But the news came down from Major League Baseball Friday morning that the Philadelphia Phillies challenged a scorer’s decision in the team’s Aug. 2 game against the Nationals that changed what had been Morse’s only hit that night to an error on shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
As a result, Morse was 0-for-4 that night ending what had been a 10-game hitting streak and putting him on a new, seven-game one.
The process behind this decision is somewhat complex but the basics are that either the Phillies or one of their players (who can challenge a call through their agents because of the new CBA), challenged that the ball hit to Rollins in the third inning that went through to left field, which was indeed questionable, was not a hit.
“That’s baseball,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who was then reminded that Hamels has been quite the thorn in the Nationals’ side this season. “Yeah,” he said with a laugh. “In more ways than one.”
Here’s what it means, statistically: Morse was 0-for-4 that night meaning his average went from .303 this morning to .299 before tonight’s game and, of course, ending his career-best 18-game hitting streak. The second run that scored that inning became unearned taking away an earned run and a hit from the stat line of Cole Hamels, and Rollins had an error added to his totals.
Here’s what it means to Morse: “I didn’t even know I had a hitting streak,” he said with a shrug. “I guess I really didn’t have one.”
Morse laughed at the interesting nature with which it all went down, though, and clarified later that he did know he had a streak of some sort going but had no idea that it was 18 games.
Morse, perhaps more than any other player in the Nationals’ clubhouse, is blissfully unaware of his own numbers. He chooses not to look at them or pay attention to them and asks reporters not to tell him specific things like hitting streaks, etc. It’s just the way he’s found success.
“When I go out there to play, I try to win,” he said. “I don’t pay attention to that. It’s such a team game. An individual thing, I don’t look at it.
“A lot of times, you see a lot of guys looking at the scoreboard, looking at their numbers. Now you’re looking at your numbers, you’re pressing. Especially if your numbers are dropping, you’re swinging at the first pitch. You become a stat rat. I think in the minor leagues, I kind of did that for a few years, and I always caught myself. People say ‘Don’t think about your stats, don’t worry about your stats.’ So for me, I can’t look at them, because in the back of my head, I’ll think: ‘Oh man,I’m doing this, I’m doing this.’ But I guess guys can do it. I don’t know.”
Morse is hitting .299 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 61 games since coming off the disabled list. He did at least admit to knowing he hit two home runs (Thursday) but otherwise he pleaded ignorance over the rest of his stats.
“It can always go better,” he said. “And my thing is, no matter what I do today or what I do tomorrow, when the game’s over, it’s over. And I try to do better the next day. I think it’s working.”