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."