Mariners’ Ackley has found his groove

SEATTLE — Even Seattle Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley admits the swing that produced a key two-run single in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory over Toronto is one he was unlikely to execute earlier in the season.

“He gave me a fastball away that I was able to handle,” he said. “I dropped it right in the outfield. Earlier in the year, I might foul that pitch off. I might roll over that pitch. Now, I’m staying on it.”

The Mariners, leading 2-1 at the time, had runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth inning when Ackley served a 2-1 fastball from Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ into left field.

It was a prime example of a resurgent Ackley, who is batting .321 in 35 games since July 1. He has a .341 on-base percentage and a .489 slugging percentage in that span, which boosts his overall slash to .251/.296/.385.

“He hasn’t made any drastic changes,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s just found his groove, and he’s feeling good about what he’s doing.

“Hitting is a funny thing. Confidence has everything to do with being a good hitter. Right now, he’s about as confident as anybody we have. I think he’s finally starting to turn the corner.

“The last thing to come for a lot of young players is to realize you’re a major-league player. That you’ve arrived, and it’s OK to be good. I think he’s comfortable in his skin. I think he’s comfortable in what he’s doing.”

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