George Sherrill was in command, overpowering one batter after another. It hardly mattered that Ian Kinsler got a two-out single in the ninth, because all the Baltimore Orioles closer needed was one more out to secure a victory.
Problem was, Michael Young was at the plate. And Young had plenty of experience in this kind of situation.
Young hit a 1-1 fastball over the right-field wall, a two-run shot that gave the Texas Rangers a 5-4 comeback win Friday night.
Trailing 4-1, the Rangers got a solo home run from Hank Blalock in the seventh and closed to 4-3 on an RBI single by Marlon Byrd in the eighth before Sherrill struck out Chris Davis with the bases loaded.
Then came the ninth. It was the third time in five games that Young either tied the game or put the Rangers ahead with a ninth-inning home run.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to do is shrink the strike zone a bit, get a good pitch to hit and not try to do too much with it,” Young said. “I’m not trying to hit the ball out. I’m just trying to hit the ball hard.”
Young has five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 10 games—impressive numbers for the No. 2 hitter in a powerful lineup.
“I tell you, Mike is becoming this team’s leader big-time. Every club has a star guy that when you need him, he steps up,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He’s been stepping up for us big-time. He’s becoming a superstar. He certainly saved us tonight. I wish I could kiss him.”
It was the first blown save of the year for Sherrill (0-1).
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I just made a bad pitch.”
C.J. Wilson worked the eighth (1-2) and Frank Francisco got three straight outs for his third save.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had three hits for the Rangers, but he was happy to see Young at the plate with the outcome hanging in the balance.
“That’s Michael. He’s clutch,” Saltalamacchia said. “You want him up in that situation because you know he’s going to come through.”
Brian Roberts hit his first home run for Baltimore, and Aubrey Huff drove in two runs. But the lapse of the bullpen cost Orioles starter Koji Uehara his third win and second against Texas.
Uehara gave up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings and left with a 4-2 lead. The Japanese rookie struck out six and walked none, a vast improvement over his performance April 13 in Texas, when he yielded seven runs and walked four.
After being lifted, Uehara waved his cap to the appreciative crowd, exchanged hugs and high fives with his teammates and engaged in a fist-bump with manager Dave Trembley.
But there would be no victory to celebrate afterward.
“It would have been a good one to win and it was a tough one to lose,” Trembley said. “They got the hits at the end. We needed one more out, we needed one more pitch.”
Texas starter Vicente Padilla allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, but the Rangers’ rally enabled him to avoid his second loss to Baltimore this season.
Uehara retired the first seven batters before Saltalamacchia doubled and scored on a single by Kinsler.
Baltimore went up 3-1 in the fourth when Huff hit a two-run double and scored on a balk. Roberts hit a solo shot in the fifth.