Young shines on national stage
Three-run homer changes complexion of game for D-backs
PHOENIX -- Chris Young has made a living hitting clutch home runs for the D-backs all season, even from the leadoff spot.After turning Thursday's National League Division Series Game 2 around with one swing of the bat, he showed that same penchant for the dramatic in the postseason. Young's three-run homer in the second that answered Chicago's Geovany Soto's two-run shot in the top half of the inning changed the flow of the game, leading to eight unanswered runs for Arizona in its 8-4 victory. "That inning is huge," said Arizona manager Bob Melvin. "You know, they take the lead on a home run, and now it's time for us to answer back. ... Obviously, the momentum that was in their dugout for that half-inning goes into our dugout, and we seemed to feed off that a little bit. But through the course of the game, that's the key inning." Young's shot came on a 3-2 pitch after the young hitter laid off a pair of Ted Lilly breaking balls off the plate. Then Lilly grooved a fastball that Young deposited into the left-field seats. "Obviously it was big for us, but honestly I was just trying to find a way to get ahead," Young said. "I was just trying to get a base hit, obviously got under it a little bit, though." Lilly reacted by throwing his glove, in part out of frustration that he shook off his catcher Soto, who called for a breaking ball in that situation. Instead, the fastball changed the complexion of the game. "I've never seen a pitcher throw their glove like that on the mound," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He threw a high fastball and the kid put a good swing on it and hit it a pretty good ways." Young also drew a pair of walks in the ballgame, scoring in the fourth on Stephen Drew's triple. Young's performance was something the Cubs might have expected out of their leadoff hitter, six-time All-Star Alfonso Soriano, who boasts a similar, albeit more experienced, combination of power and speed as Young.
Both players hit over 30 homers in the regular season while spending the majority of the time in the leadoff spot, leading Melvin to say Young reminds him very much of Soriano."Both guys have speed, both guys have power," Melvin said. "You don't see that dynamic too often in the one-spot, especially in the same series. So it's two guys that right away you've got to make your pitches or you find it in the seats." Although a night like Thursday opened the nation's eyes to the Soriano-like talent Young possesses, Arizona's center fielder does not see himself like that yet.
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"To hear my name in the same category, with myself being a leadoff hitter lately and having a little power, it's an honor," Young said. "He's a great player, but I try not to think about things like that. Just go out there and try to do the things that I do. I only have a year in right now, so hopefully I can continue doing what I do for the next five or 10 years and put my name in that category."On a night when Soriano was held to a pair of harmless singles and struck out three times, a player with his same skill set in the other dugout enjoyed his postseason breaking-out party with the type of hit Arizona fans have become accustomed to. "It's exciting to hit a homer any time, but to do it in the playoffs with 48,000 fans out here yelling, you feel like you're floating on air when you're running the bases," Young said. "You see your teammates in the dugout ready to congratulate you. "There's no feeling like it."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.