Young a pinch-hit hero vs. Seattle
Shortstop comes off the bench, delivers key sacrifice fly in win
ARLINGTON -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler had a term for it."Huge street credit," Kinsler said in the Rangers' locker room after a 4-3 victory over the Mariners on Wednesday night. Street credit. And that means... "It's a huge heart," Kinsler said, and that would certainly describe Rangers shortstop Michael Young. Young didn't start Wednesday night because of some pain and stiffness in the ring finger on his right hand. The pain is caused by a small fracture, an injury that happened Monday night and was supposed to keep Young out 5-7 days. It has hardly kept him out at all. Young didn't start, but he was, as Rangers manager Ron Washington said before the game, "available as a pinch-hitter." Young proved to be a nice weapon to have off the bench when Mariners left-hander Arthur Rhodes was having trouble finding the strike zone -- or at least agreeing with home-plate umpire Paul Nauert on where it was -- in the eighth inning. After Rhodes walked three straight hitters, Young stepped to the plate with one out in a 3-3 game and delivered a sacrifice fly that brought home the go-ahead run in the Rangers' victory over the Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The fly ball was reminiscent of the one that Young hit in the 15th inning to win the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium earlier this month. "I was pretty fired up for that at-bat," Young said. "I can't remember the last time I pinch-hit, and I had to calm myself down and take some deep breaths." For the record, it was also just his seventh pinch-hitting appearance in his career, and his first since Aug. 2, 2002 against the Red Sox. Young was 2-for-6 in his previous pinch-hitting duties, but this was his first RBI. "The guy has a broken finger, and the night he broke it, I'm watching on television and it's saying he'll be out one to two weeks," Kinsler said. "The next day, he's in the lineup. Today, he came in sore, but he told [Washington] he would be ready if he needed him. I've never seen him so fired up for one at-bat." Young actually spent the first half of the game in the training room getting treatment, and didn't even get into his uniform until he saw the game was tied in the sixth inning. "That's the best guy to have in that situation," infielder Chris Davis said. "When he was at the plate, I knew I was a lot more relaxed in the on-deck circle, because I know he's Mr. Clutch." Rhodes started the inning by getting Frank Catalanotto on a line drive to short, but then walked David Murphy, Josh Hamilton and Marlon Byrd to load the bases. By the time Young stepped to the plate, Rhodes was fuming on the mound and Mariners manager Jim Riggleman had to settle him down. After Young drove a fly ball into center field and Murphy beat Jeremy Reed's throw to the plate, Rhodes went to back up home plate, said something to Nauert and was tossed from the game. "I am not going to comment, but you have to make those calls out there," Rhodes said. "I am out there making good pitches and the ball is going over the plate. He should call it, but I have no comment over that. My teammates [have] probably never seen me fired up like that. I did what I had to do, and that's it." Young was pinch-hitting for Brandon Boggs, who had already done his part with a second-inning home run off of Mariners starter Miguel Bautista. Hamilton also hit his 25th home run in the second inning. Murphy filled Young's hole in the No. 3 spot in the lineup and scored twice after a double in the sixth and the rally-starting walk in the eighth. He also made the defensive play of the night after the Mariners loaded the bases with no outs against Rangers starter Vicente Padilla. Raul Ibanez flied out to right and Murphy gunned down Willie Bloomquist with a strong throw to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "I knew it was on line, but I didn't know if it was going to get there," Murphy said. "He made a heckuva play," Bloomquist said. "He caught it off to his right side and had momentum going away from the ball. All those factors are going through my head. I thought I was going to make it." He still might have but Saltalamacchia held his ground and blocked off home plate. "He was either going to have to run over me or slide around me," Saltalamacchia said. "That play kept us in the ballgame," Washington said. "It was a play we needed to make. In a game like this, it usually comes down to one at-bat or one play like that."
Or one big swing of the bat from a pinch-hitter.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.