Young rescues Rangers in thriller
Two-run home run in ninth sinks Orioles at Camden Yards
BALTIMORE -- The Rangers went from the curious to the victorious in the course of a few at-bats, riding the remarkable shoulders of Ian Kinsler and Michael Young to a stunning come-from-behind victory on Friday night.Down to the final out of the game and down by one run, Kinsler lined a single to left and Young followed with a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning that carried the Rangers to a 5-4 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards. The Rangers trailed 4-1 going into seventh before mounting their comeback. "That was fun ... exciting and well-needed," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had three hits. "We hung in there and fought," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Kinsler had a great at-bat. Mike is becoming a team leader big-time. Every team has a superstar that steps up, and Mike has been stepping up big-time for us." This was the third time in five games Young has hit a ninth-inning home run that either tied the game or put the Rangers ahead. He had a walk-off home run against the Royals on Sunday in Arlington and a two-out home run in the ninth inning on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays that sent the game into extra innings. "As a team, you'd love to do a better job in the middle of the game so it doesn't come down to the ninth inning," Young said. "My main thing in those situations is to make sure I'm ready. I can't predict the outcome of an at-bat, but I can do my best to prepare for the at-bat." The Rangers lost the game in Toronto. This one didn't go into extra innings. Young gave the Rangers the lead against All-Star reliever George Sherrill, and Frank Francisco closed it out in the ninth inning for his third save. "He's Michael Young," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He keeps coming through when we need him. I don't know how long we can keep riding his shoulders. You'd think he'd get a little tired. It's great to see him healthy and swinging like this." Hank Blalock's seventh-inning home run off Orioles starter Koji Uehara started the comeback, cutting the lead to 4-2. The Rangers added another run in the eighth on a one-out single by Young and a pair of two-out singles by Blalock and Byrd. Nelson Cruz then loaded the bases by reaching on an infield hit against right-handed reliever Jim Johnson. Then came the curious moment after Orioles manager Dave Trembley brought in Sherrill, a left-hander, to face Chris Davis. One night earlier, Washington had pinch-hit Andruw Jones for Davis in a similar situation. This time Washington left Davis -- 2-for-11 vs. lefties -- to face Sherrill. "We discussed Andruw," Washington said. "But Chris is going to be somebody we depend on. We're trying to build his confidence. It almost cost us the game. You never know what Andruw would have done but I felt in my heart Chris deserved a chance." Sherrill won the battle. He threw five straight curveballs and Davis went down swinging. He is now hitting .204 with 27 strikeouts in 54 at-bats after 16 games. "Obviously when [Washington] does that, it picks you up," Davis said. "I expect to be in those situations. I wanted to battle and get a hit. It just didn't work out that way. It's frustrating that other guys have to pick you up." That's exactly what happened. Sherrill struck out Saltalamacchia and retired Elvis Andrus on a grounder to third to start the ninth. But he couldn't get the third out, at least until the damage was done. Kinsler had an eight-pitch, full-count at-bat that included fouling off a 2-2 fastball and a 3-2 fastball before he lined a single to left just over the glove of shortstop Cesar Izturis. "I'm just doing what I can to get on base," Kinsler said. "Once it got to two strikes, it became a defensive at-bat. Get the barrel on something and give Mike a shot." Young, with Josh Hamilton on deck, was trying to do the same thing. "The biggest thing is to shrink the strike zone, get a good pitch to hit and hopefully get on base," Young said. "If all I do is give Josh a shot, that's fine, too." He did more than that. Young went the other way with a fastball, crushing it to deep right-center toward the spot where the 25-foot-high scoreboard ends and the bleachers begin. "I got pretty lucky," Young said. "I was hoping it would stay left. A couple feet to the right and it would have hit the scoreboard." The ball missed the scoreboard, landed in the bleachers and allowed Young to make one more triumphant tour of the bases during an amazing week. "It's a lot different on the road," Young said. "Against Kansas City, the game was over, you've got your teammates waiting for you at the plate and you can celebrate for a few minutes. This game, they still have [the middle of the order] coming up and you still have to get three outs. Fortunately, Frankie did a great job."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.