Julio Rodriguez has made a strong case for the American League's Rookie of the Month award for June.
He will have one more chance to bolster his resume when the Seattle Mariners open a four-game series against the visiting Oakland Athletics on Thursday night.
Rodriguez launched a two-run homeran estimated 421 feet into the second deck in left field in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon, leading the Mariners to a 9-3 victory against the Baltimore Orioles.
"We got a lot of fun ahead of us, the whole organization and the Seattle fan base (watching Rodriguez)," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "This kid is some kind of special, and we're watching it play out before our eyes. That's a long ways to hit a home run in this ballpark, you don't see it too often."
Rodriguez is batting .279 through 28 games in June, with six home runs and 15 RBIs. He leads AL rookies for the month in homers, total bases (54) and hits (29) and is tied for first in RBIs and stolen bases (five).
"I feel very good that I'm helping the team," said Rodriguez of the Mariners, who have won seven of their past nine games. "I'm just trying to let everything flow ... just playing my game. I was a little all over the place (earlier in the season) because I was new to the neighborhood. I'm just getting my feet on the ground."
Servais praised the 21-year-old's approach at the plate.
"He's going to get his hacks in early in the count, but with two strikes he shortens up, doesn't try to do too much and goes to the middle of the field," Servais said. "He understands how to be a complete hitter."
Added Rodriguez: "I try to stick to who I am and try to drive something. I hate strikeouts, so I just try to put the ball in play as hard as I can."
The A's took a 5-3 loss to the host New York Yankees on Wednesday, completing a three-game series sweep, and they dropped to 5-20 this month. Last weekend in Oakland, the Mariners earned a three-game sweep and outscored the A's 19-3.
Stephen Piscotty had two hits for the A's on Wednesday, including a two-run double in the first inning. He was in his second game back after spending more than seven weeks on the injured list due to a calf strain.
"In his last two nights, his at-bats have looked good," A's manager Mark Kotsay said. "He's a professional hitter, he's got a track record, and any type of success is great for any hitter, regardless of the time they've been off or what they're going through offensively."
Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie sat out the Wednesday game because of a sore left shoulder, and the team hadn't ruled out a trip to the injured list.
Right-hander Adrian Martinez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to make his second career start for the A's in the series opener at Seattle. His first outing came May 10 in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Detroit, where he allowed four hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He issued no walks and struck out three.
The Mariners will counter with right-hander Logan Gilbert (8-3, 2.44 ERA), who has yet to face Oakland this year. Gilbert had no decisions and a 3.93 ERA in four starts against the A's as a rookie last season.
--Field Level Media