Michael Morse learned long ago to ignore his numbers. Last year, as he carried a hot streak through the summer, he told reporters they could interview only if they did not mention his statistics. And so today, he was not exactly heartbroken when he learned his 18-game hitting streak had been stricken from the record books on a reversed scoring decision.
“I didn’t even know I had a hitting streak,” Morse said.
Morse later clarified that he knew he had a streak, just not how long it was, exactly. “I guess I really didn’t have one,” he quipped. Morse mostly laughed off losing his streak.
“When I go out there to play, I try to win,” Morse said. “I don’t pay attention to that. It’s such a team game. An individual thing, I don’t look at it. … I have no clue what [my numbers] are. I know I hit two home runs yesterday.”
Morse’s aversion to numbers is more than superstition. In the minors, he found himself preoccupied with his stats, and it affected the way he played.
“A lot of times, you see a lot of guys looking at the scoreboard, looking at their numbers,” Morse said. “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.”
In losing his streak, Morse had been stung by a common Nationals’ foil this year. Cole Hamels, who in May admitted to hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch on purpose, was the pitcher whose ERA benefited from the scoring change. Officially, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro submitted the review, but we can guess whose idea it was.
Either way, Morse will carry on. Since the start of his “streak,” Morse is hitting .316 with five homers and four doubles. He is starting to slug like he did last year, which makes the middle of the Nationals’ lineup awfully dangerous with Adam LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth also hitting well lately.
“It can always go better,” Morse 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.”