05/18/07 12:51 AM ET
Young's walk-off lifts Rays
Outfielder hits two home runs, and collects five RBIs
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Young's blast ended the Rays' "summer vacation" on a happy note and the kids had a wonderful time away from their St. Petersburg home, as they completed a three-game sweep of the Rangers. The win, which took four hours and 13 minutes to accomplish, also extended the team's winning streak to four as they return to Tropicana Field Friday to begin a three-game Interleague series against the Marlins.
Snapshots from the Rays' last day at the Magic Kingdom included Young's three-run and two-run homers, another triple by Carl Crawford, and a stellar performance by the bullpen on a night when starter Scott Kazmir couldn't get deep into the game.
Young's first blast came in the fourth off Rangers starter Kameron Loe, after singles by Carlos Pena and Brendan Harris. When the ball landed over the left-field fence, the Rays had a 5-3 lead. Young's second homer came on a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Willie Eyre and it cleared the wall in right. When Young arrived at home his teammates mobbed him.
"I was just trying to get a hit like I always do," said Young, who had his third consecutive multi-hit game Thursday night and seems to have snapped out of a slump. "...I just fixed my swing. It just feels a lot better. Did some drills and it feels a lot better now."
Crawford, whose three-run triple Wednesday night proved to be the crucial blow in an 11-8 win, tripled with one out in the fifth then scored on another single by Pena to push the Rays' lead to 6-3.
Kazmir had nasty stuff Thursday night, but he couldn't throw enough strikes to stay in the game. The Rays left-hander started and pitched four innings. During that period, he struck out nine -- including two rally-killing strikeouts of Sammy Sosa -- but he also walked six and threw 109 pitches, of which only 63 were strikes. So despite the fact the Rays took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, Kazmir did not return to the mound to pitch the fifth.
"I felt good," Kazmir said. "Felt real good. I guess I got in a strikeout mode, trying to do a little too much."
Chad Orvella took over for Kazmir and pitched a scoreless fifth before the Rays experienced some fielding woes in the sixth, when errors by Josh Wilson at third base and Harris at shortstop set the table for Mark Teixiera's two-run single that cut the Rays' lead to 6-5. Victor Diaz then homered off Orvella leading off the seventh to tie the score at 6.
The Rays' bullpen then posted four scoreless innings.
Brian Stokes pitched a scoreless eighth for the Rays and Al Reyes contributed a scoreless ninth, which was the first time all season the Rays' closer pitched on three consecutive days.
Gary Glover pitched his way out of a jam in the 10th after Matt Kata doubled to lead off the inning. Michael Young then grounded out to Glover before Teixiera was intentionally walked. Glover finished off the threat by retiring Sammy Sosa on a flyout to right, and Diaz on a groundout to third.
"I was trying to not only stop that run but keep them from having the big inning," Glover said. "This team, the way we score runs, we can overcome one if that guy got in. But I've run into a lot of problems in the past when you try too hard to not let that one run score and you let a lot more score."
Rays manager Joe Maddon sounded most pleased with his bullpen's effort Thursday night.
"Tonight our bullpen was the story -- they did a great job," Maddon said. "... I really believe the [guys in the] bullpen are the heroes of tonight's game."
Young received a shaving cream pie served up by Jae Seo after the game for his heroics. But clearly Young felt most comfortable talking about the team rather than his work.
Winning "makes the clubhouse a little better to come to every day instead of like on that road trip where we were losing," Young said. "We didn't feel all that right coming in losing every day. We didn't like that. We like to win."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.