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Santana reaps results after tweaking swing

Haniger, Smith still working on adjustments
May 26, 2019

OAKLAND -- Coming into this three-game series, Mariners batting coach Tim Laker and manager Scott Servais met with Domingo Santana, Mitch Haniger and Mallex Smith, looking to tweak their swings a bit. For Santana, it resulted in an immediate upsurge in his productivity. He had five hits, including two homers

OAKLAND -- Coming into this three-game series, Mariners batting coach Tim Laker and manager Scott Servais met with Domingo Santana, Mitch Haniger and Mallex Smith, looking to tweak their swings a bit.

For Santana, it resulted in an immediate upsurge in his productivity. He had five hits, including two homers and a double, in nine at-bats in the first two games against the A’s. He’d had five hits in his previous 32 at-bats over nine games.

“We pointed out some things to him that made sense to him, and he put them into play right away,” Servais said Sunday morning. “It’s more about getting him off his back side so that he’s swinging uphill.”

After an 0-for-4 Friday dropped Haniger to 4-for-25 over a seven-game stretch, on Saturday, he had two hits and hit his 13th homer, his first since May 19.

“Mitch knows what he needs to do; we were reaffirming it,” Servais said. “He made a good adjustment. Part of it is to stay a little taller.”

Smith, on the other hand, sat out Saturday and wasn’t in Sunday’s lineup after an 0-for-4 Friday dropped him to .164/.243/.254.

“Mallex is a bigger project,” the manager said. “He’ll be back in there [Monday against Texas]. His thing is a mechanical adjustment and a mindset adjustment. Mallex is strong. He can drive the ball in the gaps. He doesn’t have to be a slap-it-on-the-ground guy. Get aggressive up there, swing the bat.

“There are some mechanical things that hopefully will get him back in the strike zone. He’s always had a good idea of where the strike zone is, but he’s trying to get hits. He’s swinging at everything.”

• Yusei Kikuchi said after Saturday's start that it seemed like the A’s were sitting on his curve. It’s a pitch he’s used this rookie season with great effect early in the count. Oakland knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning and eight of the 10 A’s hits were on breaking balls.

Kikuchi said he didn’t think he was tipping his pitches, but said he couldn’t rule that out and would go to video to explore that possibility.

Servais said there was nothing he saw that indicated a tipping of pitches, but said Kikuchi and pitching coach Paul Davis will have a good look before Kikuchi’s next start against the Angels.

• The Mariners came into Sunday having committed 58 errors. No other MLB team has made more than 43. It’s been an ongoing concern, even when Seattle started the season winning 13 of its first 15 games.

“There’s sill a lot to clean up, but there are a lot of things going in the right direction,” Servais said. The Mariners allowed one unearned run to score Saturday and lost by one run. Those things grind at a team.

“Early in the year we were bashing the ball and we overcame it,” Servais said. “And no one really talked about it. We had the same issues back then.”