07/28/12 4:40 PM ET
Mariners' bullpen provides plenty of relief
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Entering Saturday's game, the unit had a 2.14 ERA since June 1, a .208 opposing batting average and a rate of 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Is it a mindset that has gotten this under-publicized group into such a groove? Maybe not, according to right-hander Steve Delabar.
"I don't think we think at all," Delabar said. "Every day's a new day, and whatever situation we come into, we try to be ready for. We think about the game that we're in. We stay focused on that, and try not to think ahead."
Closer Tom Wilhelmsen said a tight-knit camaraderie between the bullpen boys hasn't hurt either.
"We're confident in ourselves and with each other," Wilhelmsen said. "We're like brothers down there, and it's easy to be comfortable when you can be comfortable off the field. I think that's the big thing. We're here for each other and our team."
Jaso defining clutch this season for Mariners
SEATTLE -- The word "clutch" has come under fire in recent years as baseball becomes more of a statistics-oriented sport. Hardcore numbers disciples don't necessarily buy that an at-bat with two out, a one-run deficit and the bases loaded in the eighth inning, for example, is any different from a player's first at-bat in the first inning.
John Jaso doesn't agree, and neither do his numbers.
Jaso has defined the word "clutch" for the Mariners this season. In addition to the fact that entering Saturday's game, he was hitting .330 (31-for-94) with four homers and 20 RBIs over his last 36 games, Jaso leads the team with eight game-winning RBIs. He's come to the plate 32 times this season with at least two runners on base and is batting .435 (10-for-23) with a homer, two doubles, five walks and 15 RBIs in those situations. He's also batting .390 (16-for-41) with runners in scoring position.
"I love his ABs," manager Eric Wedge said. "I love his presence on the field. ... He's been putting up great ABs, he's a good clutch hitter for us, and he'll continue to play."
There's that word again -- clutch. What does it mean to Jaso?
"Whether it's needing a base hit or a sac fly or a ground ball somewhere in the infield, I try and treat it like it'd be my first AB or second AB of the game," Jaso said. "Adjust from there. Everything falls into place. Two strikes, you shorten up and try to get it into play. It's just situations.
"I'm not going to lie. I'm trying to treat every late at-bat like an earlier at-bat, but adrenaline gets going, and you do know how important that at-bat is. The whole mind game is still there. I'm just trying to suppress it as much as I can. Adrenaline can get you chasing pitches in the dirt, so I think you do still have to use the word 'clutch.' That situation is still pretty intense for any man."
Wilhelmsen met with manager Eric Wedge before Saturday's game to discuss strategy related to the fact that Wilhelmsen's wife, Cassie, is very close to giving birth to the couple's first child, a daughter, with each hour. Wilhelmsen said his wife is in nearby Bellevue, Wash., so he's close if he gets the call that she's in labor during a game. Then again, if the call comes while he's on the mound, he said, he'll finish his inning before he leaves Safeco Field to get to the hospital.
Wedge said he likes the way his team has adjusted to life without recently departed Mariners icon, Ichiro Suzuki, who was traded to the Yankees. "I feel like there has been a lot that's happened the last week or so, but I feel like these guys have been rallying around each other," Wedge said. "They've done a nice job with that. They're working hard to go out there and compete and win ballgames and better themselves individually."
Mariners infielder Kyle Seager entered Saturday tied for the Major League lead with 34 two-out RBIs. He's batting .667 (6-for-9) with 14 RBIs with the bases loaded.