HOUSTON — Dustin Ackley can’t have a much better game than he did on Friday night.
He made a spectacular catch in the outfield, picked up a career-high four hits and tied a career-high by driving in four runs in the Seattle’s win over Houston.
But more impressive than his quantity of hits in the game was the quality of his hits and where they went on the field.
After striking out in his first at-bat, Ackley notched four hits as follows:
- Sharp ground ball to right on a curveball to score a run.
- Line-drive single up the middle on a fastball to drive in two runs.
- Hard triple to the right-center field gap on a fastball.
- Line drive to left field on a change-up for a single.
Four hits to four different parts of the field on three different pitches.
“Yeah, that was noticeable to me too,” Mariners manager Erc Wedge said. “Turned around that fastball late with the bases loaded right back up the middle, the breaking ball to right field, the change-up to left field. You know what? You can really see his confidence growing, you can see his feel for the game getting better, feel for different situations getting better too.”
Ackley thinks that any time he’s spraying the ball all over the park it’s a good thing. That’s the type of hitter he was when the Mariners drafted him second overall in 2009. That’s the type of hitter he was when he got called up in 2011. That’s the type of hitter he plans to be again.
“I think now it’s just something where I can really trust in my swing, where before I didn’t really trust it and all that,” he said. “Now it’s gotten back to how it used to feel and that’s why I’m mentally focused every at-bat and ready to hit.”
While much of the focus was placed on Taijuan Walker’s first big league start, out in right field Abraham Almonte also made his major league debut and it was one he won’t forget. The 24-year-old outfielder picked up his first big league RBI, beating out a double play in the fourth inning to score Justin Smoak from third base.
But the big moment came in the eighth inning when he hammered a single up the middle to score Dustin Ackley for his first major league hit.
“I didn’t feel like I was nervous,” he said. “But when the game started, I felt it a little bit. And then after I got the hit, everything went away and I felt a little more free.”
Almonte didn’t get the customary beer shower postgame. It was a mixture of soda, juices and milk along with shaving cream and anything else his teammates could get their hands on. Just as long as it didn’t have alcohol.
“We changed it,” Almonte said. “They did juice and Coke because I’m Christian. I’m glad Felix (Hernandez) said yes, so it was Coke, no alcohol.”
As for the baseball in which he got his first hit, Almonte knew exactly who it was going to.
“I’m going to give it to my coach in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “His name is Nelson Brito. He’s like a father to me.”
The Mariners wrap up the four game series in Houston with with an 11:10 a.m. game Sunday. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 3.03 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Mariners against Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (3-1, 2.91 ERA). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.