Chris Young has come up with a few big catches this season, but none of 'em were as clutch as his game-ending nab that sealed the Arizona Diamondbacks' 6-5 victory over San Diego last night at Chase Field, snuffing out the Padres' 10-game winning streak.
In addition to being a joy to watch, the impressive-looking grab -- which involved a bounding leap to snatch a Kevin Kouzmanoff fly ball at the warning-track wall -- saved his squad some major embarrassment, as the D-Backs were a hairsbreadth away from repeating Monday's choke-worthy performance and giving up a substantial lead late in the game to the Friars.
Until Young's catch, the game was almost a virtual rerun of Monday's game. The Snakes went up 6-0 by the top of the seventh inning, thanks in no small part to some outstanding pitching and hitting by Max Scherzer (2-3, 3.38 ERA). Smoking the Padres into the fifth (including striking out five straight at one point, part of 10 Ks total), the young hurler swatted an RBI double into center field to score Ryan Roberts, and was driven in himself by Gerardo Parra during the next at-bat. Then came the sixth inning, where another four were notched: Stephen Drew plated Justin Upton from second with a double, Mark Reynolds dinged a two-run homer, and Scherzer batted in Roberts once again (albeit with an RBI single this time).
Max really should've quit while he was ahead. During the eighth inning, the Chase Field organist should've started playing Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax," as that's when Arizona's clown car of a bullpen began helping its opponents manufacture runs. Chris Burke started things off with a downtowner against Scherzer, followed by Tony Gwynn Jr.'s single. (D'oh.) A few batters and a pitching change later, Esmerling Vasquez gave up David Eckstein's single and walked Scott Hairston before beaning Kouzmanoff to force in another run. (Ouch). Then it was Juan Gutierrez's chance to fail, permitting an RBI single by Chase Headley and serving up a wild pitch to score another. (WTF!?!)
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Skipper A.J. Hinch stuck with Gutierrez through the ninth, however, even after Gwynn managed to hit the dish despite Hairston grounding into a double play. Brian Giles made it to third on the twin killing, and threatened to knot things up had Young's heroics not saved the day. If you're looking for explanations as to how this all came to pass, blame the fact that the bullpen's most consistent members, Tony Pena and Chad Qualls, were absolutely exhausted after being called upon during five of the past seven outings. Guess Hinch hasn't heard that old chestnut about going to the well one too many times.
With any luck, the pair of ace relievers will be rested enough for tonight's rubber match against the Padres, as we're certain the uber-green Billy Buckner (1-0, 6.35) might need some help when he goes against Jake Peavy (4-5, 3.48).
First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. Info: www.dbacks.com.