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Rays get a victory on road? Believe it
Rays 5, White Sox 3 (10): Delmon Young remains hot, going 4-for-5 to help snap a 12-game road losing streak.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published September 1, 2006
Rays closer Seth McClung watches the final out against the White Sox in the 10th inning. McClung earned his third save.
CHICAGO - A lot of things have changed since July 29, when the Devil Rays beat the Yankees in New York, and Thursday, when they snapped their monthlong, 12-game road losing streak with a 5-3, 10-inning victory over the White Sox.
They no longer have Julio Lugo playing shortstop. They activated Dan Miceli and are about to get Ty Wigginton back from the disabled list. They brought up Jason Hammel, Seth McClung, Chad Orvella, B.J. Upton, Kevin Witt, Ben Zobrist and J.P. Howell (twice).
And they promoted a 20-year-old kid named Delmon Young, whose unforgettable debut - 8-for-11 in the three-game series, including 4-for-5 Thursday, singling to start the rally and scoring the winning run - could make people forget a lot of the things that happened before he arrived.
"He's a future Hall of Famer," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He has a long way to go, but this kid's not scared. He's for real."
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon was impressed not only with what Young did but how he did it, hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field, running the bases alertly and properly, playing smooth defense, showing a knack for situational hitting.
"Not a bad first series," Maddon said. "Every time he swung the bat, he hit the ball on the fat part of the bat. He had great at-bats. I love the way he uses the middle of the field. He's aggressive. He was swinging at strikes, and he was taking balls. His defense - he's very comfortable out in rightfield. We know that he's a good baserunner.
"The one thing he impressed me with during spring training is that I thought he was a very fundamentally sound player, and he's showed that. . . . You just saw that this young man has a lot of really innate baseball instincts. He has a good idea what to do."
He showed that throughout the three days, but it may have been most valuable in the 10th inning Thursday when the Rays - as they do often - had an early lead and gave it away, when A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Hammel, who otherwise pitched well.
But the Rays tied it 3-3 on an eighth-inning homer by Dioner Navarro, and relievers Shawn Camp and Ruddy Lugo kept it that way.
Young fouled off Brandon McCarthy's first pitch of the 10th, then started the winning rally with a single to right.
He broke smartly for second when McCarthy bounced an 0-and-1 pitch to Carl Crawford, sliding in headfirst and to the outfield side of the base to beat Pierzynski's throw, then advanced to third when Crawford grounded out.
The Sox intentionally walked Greg Norton and unintentionally walked Navarro to load the bases, then Jorge Cantu delivered the key hit, a single to left that scored Young with the go-ahead run and Norton for insurance.
McClung battled back from a 3-and-0 count to strike out Rob Mackowiak for the first out of the home ninth, then got Scott Podsednik and Tadahito Iguchi as the Rays, who made some solid defensive plays, especially shortstop Ben Zobrist, snapped a six-game overall losing streak and avoided their eighth sweep.
Young, as he tends to do, wanted to talk more about the team's victory than his stellar individual performance.
He insists he is just trying to keep things simple, blend in and do what he can to help. He said he wasn't nervous, concerned about the scrutiny or under any pressure because of the trouble he caused in the minors, throwing his bat at an umpire and criticizing the organization publicly.
Basically, he makes it sound - and look - easy.
"You can't try to come up here and do too much," he said. "You've just got to take what you can get and hope the results come out the way you want it."
While a few of the Rays had been shaking their heads over some of the controversy Young created in the minors, they were marveling for other reasons after seeing him play.
"I think everyone knew how special he was. He's an awesome young player," centerfielder Rocco Baldelli said. "(But) you can't anticipate stuff like that happening. It doesn't always go that smooth. He's capable of some really, really impressive things. Most 20-year-olds don't come up and spray line drives all over the middle of the field like it's nothing. Actually, I don't know any 20-year-olds that can do that."
"He's come up here, and he's doing what everybody expected he was going to do," Crawford said. "I think people are just waiting to see if he's going to have another outburst. That's what we're waiting on. Hopefully he won't."
Delmon Young's first three games were something to remember:
Tuesday: 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 runs. Hit by first pitch; homered for first hit.
Wednesday: 2-for-3, 2B, sac fly, 2 RBIs. Both hits came with two outs.
Thursday: 4-for-5, 2B, run. Started winning rally with 10th-inning single.