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Smoak finds his stroke at plate against Astros

HOUSTON -- It has been another frustrating start to the season for Justin Smoak, but the Mariners first baseman went 5-for-10 in the Astros series and said he was finally feeling more comfortable at the plate.

Smoak raised his average from .188 to .228 in the three-game set and finished things off with his first home run, a solo shot down the right-field line, leading off the ninth inning in Wednesday's 10-3 loss to the Astros.

"It's mostly just slowing things down," Smoak said. "The first couple weeks I've been real anxious, so I'm just trying to slow things down and see the ball and hit it. I think early on I was trying to not just square it up, but trying to hit balls as hard as I possibly can hit them."

The Texas native seems to especially love playing in Houston, where he has now gone 12-for-24 with two doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs in six games, the first three coming when when he was with the Rangers in 2010.

After hitting just .156 in the first 10 games of the year, Smoak has hit safely in nine of the last 11 games and batted .282 (11-for-39) in that span.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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