Two big hits a good sign for Smoak

Two big hits a good sign for Smoak

Two big hits a good sign for Smoak
ARLINGTON -- It's been a frustrating season for Justin Smoak, but the Mariners first baseman came through in a big way Saturday with the go-ahead home run in an 8-6 win over Texas in a 3-for-4 night with three RBIs.

Smoak had just one RBI over the previous 21 games, so that was a welcome breakthrough as he looks to find some success to build on in a season where he's hitting .196 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in 116 games going into Sunday's series finale with the Rangers.

Smoak has hit .225 with two home runs and six RBIs in 24 starts since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma in mid-August.

"I've been working really hard left-handed and to finally see something come out of it was good," Smoak said after taking Tanner Scheppers deep in the eighth inning for his first home run since Aug. 18.

Adding an insurance run on an RBI single off Alexi Ogando in the ninth inning Saturday was just as big. Smoak said he's finally seeing some results from his attempt to tighten up his hitting stroke.

"I'm trying to keep both hands on the bat and shorten it up a little bit," he said. "I think it's happened. My swing got long there for a while, so I'm trying to keep it short and simple. I turned around a couple fastballs, so that's always a good sign."

Manager Eric Wedge was in full agreement and had Smoak back in the lineup Sunday.

"Last night was a big spark," Wedge said. "For him to hit that big home run after they tied it up and then turn around an 0-2, 96-mph fastball up in the zone and about decapitates [Michael] Saunders at first base, that's real.

"If anybody is looking for signs, that's it. For me, if you can do it once, you can do it twice. Then you can keep on moving down the line from there."