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How 'Late-Game' LaMonte keeps coming up clutch for Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Late-Game LaMonte would prefer that the moniker was more comprehensive.
LaMonte Wade Jr.'s two-run go-ahead single in the ninth inning of a 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies would be a highlight of the season for most, but for the young outfielder, it just joins a long line of late-game heroics. With the hit, Wade improved to 9-for-15 in the ninth inning this season with nine RBI.
LaMonte for the lead‼️ pic.twitter.com/Tsm5MgCZ8Y
So, what's his secret?
"I would definitely say it's not on purpose," he said. "I wish I could get some better at-bats early in the game, but I guess it's good that they're coming late in the game. I wouldn't say it's something I've always done. I just really try to stick with the plan that (hitting coaches Justin Viele and Donnie Ecker) give to me.
"They were in my ear before that. I feel confident in what those guys tell me and I try to go up there and with the best of my ability run off that plan that those guys give to me."
Wade has stuck to that plan all year, adding power to the plate discipline that made him a target for this Giants front office this spring. A two-hit day raised his OPS to .852, but he is particularly dangerous when it matters most, even if he's not trying to be. Entering the day, he had a 1.073 OPS in what Baseball Reference deems "high leverage" situations.
Wade's latest big hit was followed by an Evan Longoria double that gave some needed breathing room at Coors Field. The Giants got their MLB-best eighth win when trailing in the ninth inning or later, and their latest revelation has been in the middle of a lot of them.
Wade said he just tried to keep himself from getting "too big" against Carlos Estevez, who was sitting at 99 mph with his fastball. Wade has been choking up at the plate the last couple of weeks to try and stay short and get more contact at the plate, and he calmly roped a huge single into the big outfield at Coors Field.
"I think what stands out is how selective he is," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's just taking pitches that he doesn't feel like he can do something with and sometimes those pitches are strikes. It's very similar to the way Darin Ruf is, where he's willing to go down in the count but trust that he's got enough bat speed, he's got enough whip, (enough) lower-half power, to get the ball in the air to the pull side. He's been doing that for us all year and getting big clutch hits for us all year.
"I think he's very calm at the plate. He puts a lot of pressure on himself, but it's the kind of pressure that he can channel. It's the kind of adrenaline he can channel into focus. He just looks like a guy who always has his peak level of concentration in the biggest moments, and I think it comes from desire, it really does."