Ackley is heating up at the plate

Ackley is heating up at the plate

SEATTLE -- While Dustin Ackley was drawing raves for his outstanding catch that robbed the Mets' Travis d'Arnaud of a home run in Seattle's 5-2 win on Monday, the Mariners left fielder has been coming through more regularly at the plate as well in recent days.

Ackley's 3-for-4 game in the series opener was his third three-hit game this month after totaling just two three-hit games in the season's first three months.

The 2009 first-round Draft pick has hit .360 (18-for-50) in July to raise his average from .214 to .239 going into Tuesday's game. Ackley had a similar midseason surge last year when he batted .390 in August and hiked his average from .200 to .253 over the final 66 games of the season.

"The last five, six, seven games, I've felt pretty good," Ackley said. "And the results have been there, too, so that always helps build the confidence for sure.

"I'm just staying on balls better. Lately I've been working up the middle and pitches away I've been hitting to left field. I think that's really important. Especially when you're getting pitched that way, that's really the key."

Manager Lloyd McClendon said he's not certain if there's a pattern to Ackley's back-to-back slow starts.

"I'm trying to learn the player," said the first-year skipper. "I don't know if he's just a notoriously slow starter and once he gets hot, he gets hot. I don't know. But I do know he's playing better, he's swinging well, he's aggressive. We'll see."

Greg Johns is a reporter for 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.