Performer of the Game: D-backs' Young
Center fielder responds to lineup shift with two homers in Game 4
PHOENIX -- To some ballplayers, October baseball means nerves and tense at-bats. It means unnecessary pressure and a cluttered mind.
Chris Young is not one of those ballplayers.
For the D-backs center fielder, whose two home runs in Wednesday's 10-6 victory helped send Arizona back to Milwaukee for a winner-take-all Game 5 in the National League Division Series, the playoffs offer a chance to relax and focus solely on the one thing that matters to him: winning.
"In the playoffs you don't think about mechanics, and you don't think about..." Young said, before pausing and realizing he was speaking in a generality that might not apply to all Major Leaguers.
"I don't, some people do," he continued with a smile. "I don't think about what a pitcher is going to do. The adrenaline is just flowing. And you have nothing to lose in the playoffs."
Except of course the season, but Young did his best to make sure the D-backs wouldn't give that up just yet as they forced a Game 5 Friday night. He crushed a solo shot to right-center field in the first inning and added some pivotal insurance runs with a two-run bomb in the seventh.
Spin to Win
The two home runs made Young the D-backs all-time leader in postseason homers with five, including three in this series. But it's a stat Young didn't seem too concerned with.
"It's cool," he shrugged. "You hold on to that for what it's worth."
Heading into Wednesday's Game 4, Young was already piecing together a solid series with four hits in 11 at-bats including a Game 2 home run off Zack Greinke. But with all the talk surrounding a few managerial decisions, the success of the Brewers' power hitters and Paul Goldschmidt's grand slam, Young had been a bit overlooked.
"Chris Young has been there for us all year, he'll play every day, he never runs from anything," said manager Kirk Gibson, who dropped Young from sixth to seventh in the order before the game. "...He puts himself out there to be able to succeed. He doesn't think about the failures. That was a huge game from him tonight for us."
Before the game, Gibson didn't offer much explanation as to why he flip-flopped Young and third baseman Ryan Roberts in the lineup, but it certainly worked out. One batter prior to Young's first-inning homer, Roberts smacked a grand slam that gave the D-backs an early three-run lead.
Young said he rarely from hears from his skipper regarding any moves in the batting order, but after the game Gibson said, "I moved him before, and he's responded well to that."
Young has had playoff success in the past. As a rookie in 2007, he hit .280 with two homers and five RBIs in the D-backs' seven postseason contests. His three-run home run off Ted Lilly in Game 2 of the NLDS swung the series in Arizona's favor, as the D-backs cleanly swept the Cubs.
"In the playoffs, your adrenaline is flowing so much you're just trying to hit the ball hard," he said. "You're not thinking about homers, you're just thinking about having good at-bats and trying to get on base to produce runs. And every now and then you square some up."
Roberts pointed out that Wednesday's performance was nothing new for Young, who he said has performed whenever it's mattered most this season.
"He's a big time clutch hitter," Roberts said. "You want him up in the clutch situations. He's come through all year long."
The first time he lifted his bat off his shoulder on Wednesday, he came through again.
Following Roberts' home run, Young looked at four pitches from Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf -- three balls and then a 3-0 strike. The fifth pitch was a fastball out over the plate that Young tatooed off the wall behind the left-center field seats.
"It's just a different feel to me," Young said of playing in October. "I like playing in situations like this. It's a lot of fun for me, so I just try to live in the moment."
Young's seventh-inning blast came on a 2-1 fastball from Chris Narveson. It was a pitch that seemed to tail inside and may have jammed most hitters, but Young turned on it and deposited it 10 rows deep to the right of the D-backs' bullpen in left field.
It all but sealed a Game 4 win, meaning now Young and the D-backs' task is to win one game in Miller Park -- a daunting task, given that it's been the toughest stadium for opponents to win in this season.
"We have to forget about what we did when we were there, but I think take only the good things from this homestand," Young said. "Try to take the momentum with us and hope that they remember it, as well. And if we're able to jump on [Brewers starter Yovani] Gallardo early, I think it will make a big difference."
AJ Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.