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Smith gets nod in left against lefty Pettitte

Smith gets nod in left against lefty Pettitte

NEW YORK -- The strikeouts are piling up for a suddenly struggling Seth Smith, but A's manager Bob Melvin lent his outfielder a vote of confidence on Sunday by placing him in the lineup as the only lefty against Yankees southpaw Andy Pettitte.

"He feels a lot better today. He's had a little illness," Melvin said. "Whether that's affected him or not, I don't know. But based on our lefties, he's the guy that has the best numbers against lefties. He'll take a bad swing every now and then, but he is able to regroup."

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Smith, who went 0-for-4 in the series finale, has provided a productive bat against left-handers this season, entering Sunday having batted .385 against them. Last year, he went just 11-for-70 (.157) against lefties.

However, the 30-year-old ended the series finale with just 11 hits in his last 61 at-bats, with 20 strikeouts (including four on both Wednesday and Friday), bringing his strikeout total through his first 27 games of the season to 28. In 2012, it took him 41 games to reach 28 strikeouts.

While Smith drew the start in left field next to center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, it was Michael Taylor getting the nod in right field following his Saturday callup in place of the injured Chris Young. That meant a slumping Josh Reddick remained on the bench.

Reddick, who entered the series finale as a defensive replacement and doubled in his only at-bat, came into Sunday 1-for-22 over his last eight games and he had just 12 hits total on the season for a .138 average. Only Minnesota's Aaron Hicks (.123) has a lower average among all Major League players with at least 75 at-bats.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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