DETROIT -- When manager Eric Wedge chose to let Miguel Olivo swing away with runners on first and second and nobody out in a tie game in the top of the 10th Wednesday in Chicago, the skipper was going in part on a gut feeling about the matchup and his catcher's penchant for coming through when it counts.
But he also was relying on a recent trend that shows Olivo hitting .328 with six home runs, 18 RBIs and a .688 slugging percentage over the past 18 games.
Olivo has become one of the Mariners' best offensive weapons, and a guy Wedge is relying on more and more, as he did when he eschewed the normal sacrifice situation and saw Olivo rip a two-run double that led to a 7-4 victory.
"It's a combination of things," Wedge said of that decision. "You look at the matchup with the pitcher, you look at the situation, who is hitting behind them, what they have. You look at everything, but you do it real quick.
"But ultimately, Miggy is a clutch hitter. I've seen it on the other side. He gets hits at the right time, big hits. I felt that was a pretty good matchup for us and if we turned him loose, he'd be ready to hit. And he was."
Olivo felt his heart rise when third base coach Jeff Datz gave him the signal to swing away, knowing most managers opt to push the go-ahead run to third in that scenario.
"Datzy told me you've got the green light to swing and I thought, 'He trusts me too much. I cannot let him down. I just need to do my best,'" Olivo said. "In a situation like that, you can be a hero. You get a good pitch to hit and make contact, a lot of good things can happen."
For Wedge, Olivo has earned the right to get those chances by coming through in the past.
"I've seen him play for a lot of years on the other side of the diamond. He's had enough big hits against us at big times," Wedge said. "But this year, it's just getting to know the man. I love his toughness, I love his passion, the way he competes. He hates to lose, takes pride in the pitching staff. It's personal to him."