DENVER -- It was another big moment, rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado shirking any pressure or anxiety to drive in the winning run in Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Pirates.
It was Arenado's 10th go-ahead RBI and seventh to decide the game, impressive numbers for a 22-year-old who broke into the big leagues less than four months ago. Arenado has drawn much acclaim for his stellar glove work at third base, quickly becoming a highlight-reel staple.
But Rockies manager Walt Weiss sees a valuable trait in his rookie on the offensive side, an ability to shed the unavoidable fear of the moment and drive in runs.
"In general, when you get those high pressure at-bats, there's going to be some emotion attached to it," Weiss said." There's going to be some adrenaline, there's going to be maybe some fear.
"I think the guys that perform well in those situations consistently -- guys that are tagged as clutch players -- those guys can harness those emotions and that adrenaline and use it to focus, as opposed to the adrenaline getting them away from their focus. When you talk about clutch players, that's what you're able to do."
On Sunday, Arenado stepped into the batter's box in the seventh inning against Pirates reliever Bryan Morris with a detailed strategy, smacking the second pitch he saw into right field for a double that scored Wilin Rosario from first.
"I knew he had a cutter and a slider," Arenado said after the game. "I was looking for cutter or slider middle-away. He threw me a first-pitch fastball in. If he would have thrown it again, I could've been jammed or not swung. Luckily it was a cutter right over the plate, and I was able to put a good swing on it."
Adding another layer of difficulty to such situations is that the opposing club often selects a certain pitcher for the ideal matchup. And that pitcher comes armed with his best stuff.
"You're almost always going to have to hit the pitcher's best pitch," Weiss said. "The game's on the line; you're not going to get a fastball down the middle … and that's why it's tough to consistently perform in those situations."
After a July slump, August has been the best month of Arenado's young career, as he was hitting .323 with 10 hits over nine games.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.