BOSTON -- Rule 5 Draft reliever Lucas Luetge is handling an increasingly critical role for manager Eric Wedge, who is trusting him in bigger and tougher situations as the season progresses.
Luetge has yet to allow an earned run in 14 appearances, tying a Mariners record for a reliever at the start of his career. On Sunday, he struck out Yankees standout Curtis Granderson with runners on first and second and one out in the eighth inning with a 4-2 lead.
Pretty big situation for a young man from Industry, Texas (population 304), in front of a crowd of 41,631 at Yankee Stadium.
"Sometimes I'll look up at the seats and think, 'My town could fit in that section,' or something like that," Luetge said with a chuckle. "It's pretty amazing. Where I'm from, we've seen nothing like that before. Most people in the world have only seen Yankee Stadium from TV, so it's just awesome to be there and on the field."
But Luetge isn't letting the situations overwhelm him.
"I really don't think about it too much," he said. "I didn't even realize who was on base until after I got out of there [on Sunday]. I try to just think about it like any other situation, because no matter when I go in there, I don't want to give up a hit or a run. It's all the same to me."
"He carries himself with a level of maturity that is impressive for a young player and a kid coming from Double-A," said Wedge.
Luetge studies a lot of pregame film on opposing hitters, since he's never faced most Major League batters before. And while he appreciates the run of success he's having, Luetge's definitely not taking it for granted.
"It's obviously a lot better being where I am now than the complete opposite," he said. "Coming into all this, you really don't know what to expect. You don't know how things are going to go. Luck has been going my way right now. In baseball, there are ups and downs, and right now is one of my ups, so I'm going to try to keep it going, because eventually I know there is going to be a down.
"It's a humbling game, so that's why I'm trying to make sure I don't get comfortable with anything. I do the same routine and work and don't take a day off with anything, because once you start getting comfortable and taking it easy, that's when things start to go the wrong way."