HOUSTON – Dustin Ackley should have had at least two home runs in the past two games. Instead, he’ll have to settle for two doubles and six hits.
Ackley notched three hits in Seattle’s 5-2 win over the Astros on Wednesday to go with his three hits in Tuesday’s win, hopefully signaling a break of his monthlong slump.
“Believe me, I will take whatever I can get,” he said.
While the Mariners have put together an impressive run of wins, Ackley has been struggling.
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On Tuesday, he singled in his first at-bat, snapping a 0-for-21 stretch.
“It was good to work the count and hit a curveball on 3-2,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It was nice to find a hole. It was also nice to barrel a ball up pretty good. That was kind of the start to the whole day for me. Get some confidence going into the rest of the at-bats.”
The three-hit outing carried over into the next game.
“I felt good again,” he said Wednesday. “I took some good swings. I got a couple pitches to hit, and that was it.”
After raising his average to .265 on May 20, Ackley continued to slide lower. Over the next 34 games, he hit .153 (17 for 120) with just five extra-base hits. There were grumblings he should be optioned to Class AAA.
Instead, he has been working on minor things with his swing and stance to find his way.
“You’re always kind of tinkering with things, trying to see what works,” he said. “Trying to do stuff in the cage. Try to feel what’s comfortable that day and just try get something going.”
• Felix Hernandez was named the American League pitcher of the month. Hernandez compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.22 ERA, six walks and 54 strikeouts in 441/3 innings pitched over six starts to claim the honor for the fourth time in his career. While he was successful in June, the Mariners were just as good, going 18-10. “Yeah, that’s what makes me more happy, if we’re winning,” he said.
• The Mariners had their club and American League record streak of 46 consecutive games without allowing an unearned run snapped in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game. The last unearned run had been on May 12.
• James Jones went 8 for 16 (.500) with six runs scored in the series. He raised his batting average from .275 to .293.
• With the international signing period starting Wednesday, multiple sources reported that the Mariners have signed Venezuelan outfielder Brayan Hernandez — one of the top international prospects — to a free-agent contract. MLB.com is reporting that Hernandez, a 16-year-old switch-hitter, agreed to a $1.85 million bonus. The Mariners have also signed outfielder Danny DeJesus Contreras out of the Dominican Republic.