Some players, knowing they might pinch hit late in games, spend time watching video of relievers or taking some hacks in the cage, or just intently watching the opposing pitcher. John Jaso is not one of them - the A's catcher has a remarkably laid-back approach to big at-bats. On Monday night at Angel Stadium, he used that mellow vibe while hitting for Derek Norris in the ninth inning and crushed a two-run homer to give Oakland a 3-2 victory. The A's have won seven of their past eight games, and are 6-1 on their first road trip of the season. Asked how he prepared for his decisive at-bat, Jaso laughed and said, "I don't really do anything to prepare. It's like, 'Jaso, go grab a bat and hit,' you know? My hat's on backward on the bench, I'm not really paying attention. "I try not to think about things too much, just go up there and get my foot down early and hit the ball as hard as I can. Not to launch it, but so I don't have a timid swing, so I have an aggressive swing." Just that easy. Plus, Jaso said, with a 1-2 count, he was looking for an offspeed pitch from reliever Ernesto Frieri, and instead he got a mid-90s fastball. He's always ready for a fastball, though, even when he thinks he's getting a changeup. Josh Donaldson had singled to open the ninth inning against Frieri, and with one out, Jaso recorded his first home run of the season. Jaso was merely returning the favor: In the second game of this road trip, Norris hit for Jaso at Minnesota and later, in the 11th inning, Norris hit a three-run homer for the win. "It seems like it's working out all right," Jaso said. "We've got a little tandem thing and it's working out pretty well, I guess." Jaso also hit a pinch-hit homer at Angel Stadium last year, and in his career, he's a .424 hitter with six homers and 22 RBIs in 20 games in Anaheim. All of Oakland's runs Monday came via home runs. Yoenis Céspedes hit his second homer in two days, a drive to right-center in the fourth off Hector Santiago, who was otherwise uncongenial to the A's. The Angels got a homer, too, and it pushed Albert Pujols closer to a milestone. His blast to left-center in the third inning was No. 496 of his career; 25 players have reached the 500-homer mark in major-league history. In his past 12 games against Oakland, Pujols is batting .365 with four homers, 12 RBIs and eight runs. He's 5-for-7 lifetime against Jesse Chavez, who said he threw Pujols "a lazy cutter."
John Jaso's pinch HR gives A's a victory
San Francisco Chronicle | Apr 15