Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Return of "Da Meat Hook"

A year ago at this time, Dmitri Young was in the midst of just trying to get back to playing the game he loves... A divorce, alcohol abuse and depression were amongst the things that the former Rio Mesa High School (Oxnard, CA) star dealt with prior to his return. Young played well after his mid-July return, nonetheless, he would be released by the Detroit Tigers less than a month before Season's end... following the season, he would end up in a hospital where he would be diagnosed with diabetes...

With seemingly everything going against him, it would have been easy for the 33-year-old Young to pack it in and call it a career... Young was a non-roster invitee to the Washington Nationals this spring. Starting Nats first baseman Nick Johnson was slow to recover from a broken leg and Young would wind up winning the starting job at first base. Young got off to a slow start, and by early May was losing at bats... On May 16th, his batting average stood at .227 with only three home runs and 14 RBI's... it appeared that this latest comeback was also going to end badly... but Young persevered and began to come out of his slump the next day with a pinch hit RBI single... a 2-for-3 performance with a homer and an RBI followed that... over those next ten games, he would go 16 for 29 and raised his batting average 75 points to .302... Incredibly, the best was yet to come though... back-to-back 4-for-4 performances followed on May 31 and June 1st... suddenly Young became the Nats leading candidate for the All-Star Game. He would wind up hitting .377 in June with three homers and 13 RBI's... This past Sunday, the All Star Game reserves were announced and Young had made it as the Nats lone representative! For someone that has gone through so much this past year, it was certainly nice to see this happen. Yesterday, he was the star of the Nats 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs as he hit a grand slam home run off of Cubs starter Rich Hill, and went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .337. One can only hope that "Da Meat Hook" can continue on this path and lead the Nats to some better times in the second half of the season.


As for the other games, the great Johan Santana went up against the New York Yankees... early on, it looked like it would be another tough luck outing for Johan as the Yanks held a 2-1 lead though five innings. Michael Cuddyer would drive in a run for the Twins to tie the game in the sixth and Jason Kubel would hit a two run homer off of Mike Mussina in the seventh to knock him out of the game and hand him the loss as the Twins would go on to a 6-2 victory. For Johan, it was just another day at the office as he picked up his 10th victory... Seven innings pitched, two earned runs allowed, four hits, two walks allowed and five strikeouts. Johan will make his next appearance at the All-Star Game in San Francisco next week...

The early games were all enjoyable ones for me yesterday - the Boston Red Sox got a strong six innings from starter Tim Wakefield before he faded in the seventh, giving up four runs before he was pulled against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays... The Red Sox went into the inning with a 7-1 lead, but it ended with them only up 7-5... Manny Delcarmen pitched a strong 1 1/3 innings and Jonathan Papelbon closed things out for his 20th save of the year. "Paps" lowered his ERA to 1.69 with the effort and has only one blown save this year... Like Young and Santana, he will also be making the trip to the city by the Bay next week...

The locals didn't do so well yesterday... both the Angels and Dodgers could only manage two runs a piece as they respectively lost to the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves. Marlon Byrd and Frank Catalanotto each led the Rangers with three hits and ex-Dodger Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth to record his 11th save of the year in a 4-2 Texas win. Yunel Escobar had three hits, and Jeff Francoeur had two hits to lead the Braves to a 5-2 win over the Dodgers... Andruw Jones truly had a "feast or famine" night, striking out four times, while hitting a solo homer in his other plate appearance... Bob Wickman closed things out in the 9th for his 15th save of the year.


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