Playoff hero Young strikes again, torments former team
Veteran comes off O's bench, swats go-ahead three-run double to sink Tigers
BALTIMORE -- Delmon Young is no stranger to the big stage, and he showed why during Game 2 of the Orioles' American League Division Series against the Tigers.
After sitting on the bench all afternoon Friday, Young entered in the eighth inning and broke the series wide open with one swing of the bat. His bases-loaded double stole a win away from the Tigers and allowed his team to leave Camden Yards with a 7-6 victory and a 2-0 ALDS advantage.
It was the latest in a series of memorable October hits. Young has been to the postseason in each of the past six seasons and often finds a way to leave his mark. The reputation has grown so much that it has even earned Young a rather interesting nickname inside the clubhouse.
"He's unbelievable," Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. "We call him the Bruce Lee. It seems like every at-bat when we need a clutch hit, he comes up and delivers.
"He's amazing. To take one at-bat and get a hit? We were there the whole game ... to see one pitch and deliver, it's definitely special."
Young has been with five organizations and is at least somewhat of a journeyman despite having not yet turned 30. But he's also the type of player that good teams want to have on their side because of a tremendous postseason track record.
The .271 career average in October doesn't necessarily stick out, but everything else does. In 34 postseason games, Young has nine home runs, 21 RBIs and 14 runs scored. He's not quite at the level of teammate Cruz and his 15 postseason homers, but he's also not far off.
The Tigers know about these numbers all too well because Young is their all-time postseason home run leader with eight. His best performance came in the 2012 AL Championship Series, when he led Detroit to a four-game sweep over the Yankees by going 6-for-17 with a pair of home runs and six RBIs.
Whenever there has been a big moment, Young often finds a way to be right in the middle. Even in the difficult role of a pinch-hitter.
"I think everybody in the dugout, we look at him and go 'How does he do it?'" Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "Everybody is just confused, it's just unbelievable how good he is at pinch-hitting."
The numbers certainly bear out Hardy's heavy praise. Young is 17-for-50 (.340) in his career as a pinch-hitter with five extra-base hits and nine RBIs. This year alone, he went 10-for-20 during the season with one homer, five RBIs and two walks.
That was at least one reason manager Buck Showalter didn't hesitate to use him in the eighth inning of Game 2. With the bases loaded and the Orioles trailing by two runs, there was an opportunity to strike against a reeling Tigers bullpen.
Right-hander Joakim Soria entered during the previous at-bat and promptly walked the first batter he faced. That meant the pressure was on the pitcher and Young knew it. He prepared for a first-pitch strike, and when he got a slider in the zone, Young lined it into the left-field corner.
All three runners scored as Baltimore took a 7-6 lead it would not relinquish. It could very well end up being the turning point of the series.
"Just being very fortunate," Young said. "I could easily have hit a line drive right to the left fielder [and] have it be a sac fly."
And what about coming in cold off the bench?
"I'm always comfortable in the batter's box," Young said. "It doesn't matter if I haven't gotten a hit in a while or I'm 10-for-10. You have to feel comfortable."
It showed once again.