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For Orioles' Mark Trumbo, strong contact up the middle a sign September could be a good month

When designated hitter Mark Trumbo got the night off Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners, he was mired in the kind of stop-and-start stretch that has defined his season to this point. Multi-hit days would be followed by fallow ones, and Trumbo took the opportunity to reset entering the season's final month.

Sunday's three-hit day, which included a missile of a home run to center field and his fourth walk-off hit of the season in the 12th inning against the Toronto Blue Jays, was a decent indication that what he did to adjust has taken hold.

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Save for the pull shot to left field that won the game for the Orioles, most of Trumbo's contact — including Saturday's frightening line drive off Toronto starter Marcus Stroman — has been up the middle. That was his mantra in last year's 47-home run season, and one he hopes can carry him back.

"That's a good positive," Trumbo said. "That was something I was working on the other day. It always good when it starts translating in the game. I needed to do a few things a little bit differently, and I've been trying to do so. Today and the series were pretty good for me."

Trumbo has three multi-hit games and is batting .375 (9-for-24) with a pair of extra-base hits and four RBIs since that day out of the lineup.

With four weeks remaining in the season, Trumbo is far off last year's power pace with 21 home runs, and is batting .246/.301/.415. His September would have to be monstrous to put him near last year's level, but staying in the middle of the field with his contact could raise his average back to near his career .250 mark and end his season on a high note.

Even with more late heroics, though, Trumbo is clearly in a different spot than last year. Toronto challenged him twice by walking first baseman Chris Davis intentionally in an effort to create what they thought was an advantageous matchup. He struck out on three pitches the first time, and the second ended up deciding the game.

Both would have been unheard of last year.

Trumbo has pointed to several factors as being problems this year, chief among them being his propensity for fouling off pitches that last year he drove for extra bases.

That he hasn't been punishing those types of pitches is evident by his average exit velocity of 89.9 mph, according to Baseball Savant, which places him 34th among players with at least 150 batted ball events. A season ago, he was eighth at 92.7 mph.

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