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September 27, 2010 at 9:11 PM

UPDATED WITH QUOTES — Mariners 7, Rangers 5: Justin Smoak has three hits and a big home run

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Justin Smoak made his triumphant return to Texas tonight, clubbing a huge three-run homer off C.J. Wilson in the fifth inning that proved the difference in the game. Smoak also singled and scored in the second inning and singled in the seventh to move Franklin Gutierrez into position to score on a wild-pitch.
Nelson Cruz got another home run, his fifth this season off Mariners pitching. The three-run blast was the 11th homer by Cruz against Seattle since 2007. Anthony Varvaro was the victim this time.
That’s three wins by Seattle the last four times these teams have played.
“The better your at-bats are, the more success you’re going to have,” Smoak said. “I’m in a place right now where that’s really all I’m trying to do. Go up there and ground out an at-bat, battle through an at-bat, have a good one and hope for the best. Tonight, I had a couple of hits more.”
That’s five hits for Smoak his last two games. Prior to that, he’d been just 4-for-23 (.174) since being called back up from Class AAA.


That’s quite the turnaround from what we’d been seeing. Obviously, Smoak is capable of these kinds of nights. The key will be whether he can string the good ones together consistently and have success.
You saw, in our earlier blog post, how manager Daren Brown spoke of wanting to see that kind of consistency from Smoak.
After the game, I asked Brown about that.
“For me, that’s what we’re looking for,” Brown said. “He had a nice day yesterday, came out and had a great night again tonight. Looking at our kids and going forward, what can we expect out of them? You want to see some consistency and that ‘This is what we’re going to get.
“That’s not to say he’s going to have three hits every night. But he’s put together a couple of solid nights and more importantly he’s put up a solid at-bat just about every time he goes up there.”
And by “solid at-bats” Brown says he means “Going up and getting a good pitch to hit and not missing it.”
Sounds fair enough. Remember, this is two good nights by Smoak. But he needs to show more consistency all around, even as a rookie. So, it’s a start. But a lot more will be expected.
It was a good night all-around for the young players. Moore had that RBI double in the second inning.
Thenk, in the eighth, after singles from Gutierrez and Smoak, Matt Mangini moved Gutierrez into position to score on a wild pitch.
“Even a guy like Mangini, who didn’t have a hit tonight, he gets a ground ball to advance the runner,” Brown said. “He did his job.”
Let’s not forget Greg Halman, who doubled home a run for his first big-league hit. Halman did not get the real ball collected for him. Instead, his teammates presented him with a fake “game ball” complete with signatures on it, a date, the temperature and a scribbling that read “Off Jack Wilson” on it.
Funny guys, those M’s.

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