Forever Young: Veteran jump-starts rally
DH snaps 0-for-15 slump with leadoff single in 11th inning
ARLINGTON -- In the 11th inning of the Rangers' dramatic 7-3 Game 2 win in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers on Monday, Michael Young showed once again why he's so often been trumpeted as one of the most patient hitters in all of baseball.
Mired in an 0-for-15 slump entering his 11th-inning at-bat, Young saw five pitches from Detroit right-hander Ryan Perry, fouling off two, until he ended the plate appearance by hitting a grounder just past third baseman Brandon Inge. He scored three batters later on Nelson Cruz's walk-off grand slam.
Young, always the professional, stressed that the hit was not important to him because it broke his hitting slump, but rather it was significant because it helped the Rangers win.
"That's the whole point. I wasn't happy for me, I was happy to get on base to start the inning," Young said. "I had a two-strike count, and I was just battling. I was able to sneak one past there and start the inning. I was really happy about that."
Young had flied out in each of his previous four at-bats, including in the eighth, when right-fielder Don Kelly had to run a long way to track down the ball near the foul line.
Regardless, Young thought it was important to stay the course, as he had made solid contact on each of those previous outs.
"I don't lose confidence in myself as a hitter. I expect good things to happen every time I go out there," Young said. "When it doesn't, I think about what happened, and if I need to make an adjustment I'll make it, and if I don't, I won't. Every time I go up to the plate I expect to hit the ball hard."
When a slump like that happens -- especially in the playoffs -- many players will swing earlier in the count, trying to make something happen instead of looking for a specific pitch to hit.
That was not the case with Young, as he fought off a two-strike fastball and was able to remain patient and hit the next pitch he saw to the opposite field.
"As soon as I saw his swing on the slider that [Perry] threw that he [fouled off], I was sure he was going to get on base," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Every time you see him get his approach going the other way and slowing things down, that's when he's the best. As you could see in that last at-bat, he was just trying to hit that ball to the middle and just reacted. When he does that, he's going to do a lot of damage."
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.