If you had the hot-bat month that outfielder Seth Smith did with the Mariners in April, you might not want to turn the page.
Good thing that Smith historically has been even better in May.
The 33-year-old Mississippi native finished April with a .298 batting average, and the team’s leading marks in on-base percentage (.423) and slugging percentage (.544).
It was arguably Smith’s best first month in the majors since he was a part-time outfielder in Colorado in 2009 (.324/.490/.595).
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And Smith finished off the month in grand style, hitting a home run in back-to-back games for the sixth time in his career. His solo shot off Yordano Ventura in the first inning Saturday started the scoring for the Mariners in a 6-0 victory over Kansas City.
“It really started when he (Smith) first started playing in March. His approach from the first day of spring training has been fantastic,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He hasn’t tried to do too much. He’s used the whole field. He’s a guy they typically shift against a lot — and multiple times he’s beaten the shift because he is using the whole field.
“Just the quality at-bat and the consistency of it is great to see. He’s hit that point in his career where he knows who he is.”
So why has Smith been a fast starter?
He has no idea.
And he prefers not to know the numbers to cloud his head.
“It’s nothing particular,” the soft-spoken Smith said. “I try to get my swing in a place where I can repeat it, and get a good swing off as often as possible.”
The last time Smith hit home runs in back-to-back games was May 17-18 of 2014 while with San Diego.
“If you are hitting the ball hard and barreling it up, (there) is a better opportunity for stuff (extra-base hits) like that to happen,” Smith said. “Ultimately, the swing is what it is, and I am just trying to get a good pitch and hit it hard. After that, you can’t really worry about it.”
Smith has hit 21 home runs in May — easily the best power-output month for his career.
IANNETTA GOING THREE IN A ROW
Whether it was because of who was on the mound (Taijuan Walker), or how many runs the Royals had scored in the first two games of the series (zero) — catcher Chris Iannetta was back behind the plate for the day game Sunday.
It is the first time the veteran has started three games in a row at catcher this season.
“Just thought it was the right way to go today before we head out on the road trip,” Servais said.
Iannetta said he welcomes the extra work, adding that his body feels great.
“I want to play every day — that is just me,” Iannetta said. “Our bodies don’t allow us to do that all the time, but if I feel good and am healthy, I’d love to play.”
Pitchers Zack Littell and Osmer Morales combined on a five-hit shutout, and the Clinton LumberKings won their third game in a row with a 5-0 victory over Dayton (Single-A) on Saturday.
First baseman Dalton Kelly has an 11-game hitting streak, hitting .441 with five extra-base hits.
The LumberKings are in first place in the Midwest League.
The home runs certainly came in bunches on May 2, 2002. Bret Boone and Mike Cameron became the first teammates to hit back-to-back home runs twice in the same inning.
Their home runs gave Seattle a 10-0 lead over the Chicago White Sox after the first inning. The M’s won, 16-5.
In that game, Cameron became the 13th player in major-league history to hit four home runs in one game.
Leadoff hitter and left fielder Nori Aoki was given the day off from starting Sunday. Servais wanted to get Robinson Cano a game at designated hitter, and keep Smith’s hot bat in the lineup. … Slugger Nelson Cruz, who was plunked twice on his elbow Saturday night, is fine. Servais said it was “karma” since it is Cruz who implores teammates to take inside pitches off their bodies. … Reliever Charlie Furbush (left shoulder) will get in 10 pitches off a mound in the next day or two as part of his throwing program, Servais said. The pitcher will not travel on the road trip. … Right-hander Joaquin Benoit (shoulder) played catch Sunday.
The Mariners begin a seven-game trip Monday with the first of three games in Oakland. A pair of right-handers — Nathan Karns (2-1, 3.63 ERA) for Seattle, and Kendall Graveman (1-2. 4.03) for the A’s — take the mound at 7:05 p.m.
The game will be televised on Root Sports, and broadcast on 710-AM.
Oakland swept the Mariners in Seattle on April 8-10.