ST. PETERSBURG -- Mariners catcher Jesus Montero carried a five-game hitting streak into Friday's series opener against the Rays, having hit .524 (11-for-21) with three doubles, a home run and eight RBIs in that span.
The rookie smoked a line drive over the center-field fence in Thursday's finale at Kansas City to highlight a 3-for-4 game with four RBIs. It had been four weeks since his last home run and he wasn't sure about that one until he saw Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson crash into fence as the ball sailed over his head.
"I didn't know it was a home run until I saw that guy bang down out there," Montero said. "He hit the wall hard. It was a curveball and I reached for it. I never thought that was going to be a home run."
He wound up a triple shy of the cycle for the second time this year.
"That always happens," he said with a smile. "I did it last year with the Yankees, but it's hard for me to get a triple. I'm too slow."
But Montero was quick with the bat over the past four days, the 10-for-17 series hiking him from .242 to .262.
"We did a nice job raising his average," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "He's a guy that has a lot of offensive potential, a nice young hitter."
"That's why we got him," said Felix Hernandez, who welcomed the run support on Thursday in recording the 6-1 win. "And he's going to keep getting better."
Montero figures the same thing will happen with the rest of his offensive mates. After the team's recent struggles, he welcomed the group breakthrough in Kansas City and believes it's a sign of better things to come.
"We have a lot of talks in the team," he said. "We want to do this. We want to win. We want to be better every day and do this together. That's what we're doing. Every single play, every single at-bat is important for us. We're trying every single thing to be good. And the team is doing better now."