2 triples in 1 frame? Smith sets table for big day

Speedy Braves prospect and roster hopeful delivers feat in 7-run 1st, later homers, doubles

2 triples in 1 frame? Smith sets table for big day

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Braves leadoff hitter Mallex Smith tripled twice in the first inning on Wednesday, keying a seven-run outburst in Atlanta's 11-4 win over Baltimore.

"That's game-changing speed," observed Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez moments after the game.

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"He's getting better, he's cleaning up his game and he's getting closer to the Major Leagues. He's receptive to everything, which is good. ... He has a great attitude along with pretty good talent, and we saw a little bit of it today, especially the speed."

For context, only four players have hit two triples in the same inning during a regular-season game since 1900, and it's happened just once since 1951, when Cory Sullivan accomplished the feat for the Colorado Rockies in a 10-4 victory over the Padres in 2006.

"It was awesome. What a heck of a first inning ... just up there trying to put some good AB's together, that's all," beamed a visibly excited Smith of his memorable opening frame.

"This is just a stepping stone to keep building off of."

With two out in the fifth, Smith flexed some muscle with a towering home run to center off Orioles lefty Brian Matusz. The prospect later doubled in the seventh, but flied softly to right in the ninth to finish a single short of the cycle. He went 4-for-6 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Smith's first three-bagger was a liner down the right-field line off Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez, while his second came on a wind-blown fly ball off Odrisamer Despaigne that was misjudged by Baltimore right fielder Mark Trumbo.

Smith scored the game's first run when Michael Bourn singled him home, and he was stranded at third when Jeff Francoeur grounded to short to end the seven-run first.

The speedy Smith, who has stolen 226 bases in four Minor League seasons, is ranked the No. 17 prospect in the Braves' system.

When he was asked what he would do for an encore after enjoying such a productive day, the genial Smith couldn't help but smile.

"That's the tough part about having great games like that, you know?" Smith said. "Tomorrow's like, 'What can I do better?'

"But honestly, you just come back and play tomorrow. Baseball's a game where you can't get too high and you can't get too low.

"You've got to show up tomorrow. It's a new day."

And while he is focused on earning a spot on the Braves' Opening Day roster, the center fielder plans to give it his best, no matter what uniform he dons this season.

"Right now I'm just here," Smith said. "Last year was last year and this is a new year. If they continue to keep me up here, then I'm going to continue to try to put my best on the field. If they don't, I'm going to go down to the Minor Leagues and put my best on the field there too."

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.