Young stud stymies Red Sox
Padres righty allows just one hit over seven strong innings
SAN DIEGO -- As far as persuasive actions go, Padres manager Bud Black's aptitude for bending ears on Saturday appeared to run a close second only to pitcher Chris Young's knack for mowing through the Red Sox lineup.
And while Black successfully argued two calls that were overturned in innings where runs were scored in the Padres' 6-1 victory over the Red Sox before another sold-out crowd at PETCO Park, he was dismissive of any role he might have played in the victory.
Instead, the first-year Padres manager gave equal parts credit to Young, who limited the Red Sox to one hit over seven innings with 11 strikeouts, and to the umpires, who worked together to get two critical calls correct that third-base umpire Brian Knight originally botched.
Black, of course, had plenty of praise for Young, who lasted just three innings in his last start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, as he was ejected after hitting Derrek Lee with a pitch that led to a swing-and-miss parade between the 6-foot-10 righty and the Chicago first baseman.
And there was plenty of praise for an offense that got three home runs -- two from Khalil Greene -- as the Padres (42-31) pounded out 11 hits against three Red Sox pitchers. But the greatest acclaim was directed at the 6-foot-10 Young.
"He was outstanding," Black said of Young, who lowered his ERA to a Jake Peavyesque 2.08 and allowed only a leadoff single to J.D. Drew in the fifth inning. "He's a fastball pitcher, and he used his fastball a great deal. But when he used his secondary pitches, they were in the strike zone and effective. It wasn't like he was wasting offspeed pitches."
Truthfully, Young (7-3) wasn't wasteful of anything -- pitches or time. Of the 110 pitches he threw, 74 went for strikes. And when he did run into trouble, he was able to deftly get out of it by mixing his pitches so that the Red Sox (47-26) couldn't get a read or a bat on him.
Take the fifth inning, for example. After Drew's leadoff hit, Mike Lowell bounced a shot toward Kevin Kouzmanoff that proved too hot for the rookie third baseman to handle. But that rally was gone quicker than you can say knuckleball.
Young struck out the next three hitters -- Doug Mirabelli, Julio Lugo and starting pitcher Tim Wakefield -- by juggling his low 90s fastball and nasty slider that was moving every bit as much as Wakefield's knuckler.
Then, in the sixth inning, after walking David Ortiz with two outs, Young got the always-dangerous Manny Ramirez on a routine fly ball to right field to end the inning. Boston's two biggest boppers -- Ortiz and Ramirez -- combined for a 0-for-4 effort at the plate with two strikeouts against Young.
"Each time out there, he just continues to impress me; he's starting to become a go-to guy ... an elite pitcher in this game," Padres catcher Josh Bard said. "He executes; he's as prepared as any pitcher I've been around. He believes in the game plan, and we stick to it. It's not rocket science."
This certainly made it easy for Bard behind the plate, though his night was anything but drama free.
In the sixth inning and with Mike Cameron -- who doubled with one out in the inning -- at second base, the switch-hitting Bard, who was batting right-handed against Wakefield, hit a ball down the left-field line that hit off the foul pole next to the Western Metal Supply Co. building. Knight ruled the ball foul.
After Black started his case with Knight that the ball was fair -- television replays showed that the ball was fair -- the umpires convened and changed the call. Boston manager Terry Francona was eventually ejected after arguing with Knight.
Francona might have been still fuming from another call that was overturned an inning earlier when Knight ruled that Ramirez made a catch on Kouzmanoff's low-sinking line drive. As was the case with the Bard ruling, Black first spoke with Knight, and then the umpires got together and also reversed the call.
Black applauded the two calls, and not just because they went in the Padres' favor, either.
"It goes to show that the umpires -- I have seen this the last couple of years -- convening, talking through it and coming up with a decision," Black said. "I tip my cap to the umpires for a lot of times taking the ego out of the call and talking it through."
Bard knows something about reversed calls. On May 31 in Pittsburgh, he had a home run reversed when umpires eventually ruled the ball hit off a railing at PNC Park. Bard was livid after the call was changed, ejected and suspended for three games, though that suspension is under appeal.
"Ultimately, you can say what you want about umpires, but they're trying to go out there and do their jobs just like we're trying to go out there and do our job," Bard said. "You give them a lot of credit that on both the calls tonight, they battled and they got them right. There's going to come a time where our team, there's going to be a ball that bounces short."
Just don't expect it to come when Young is on the mound, especially with the way he was commanding the strike zone against the Red Sox.
"He's got a very good fastball, offspeed and deception ... he has all those," Francona said. "He's one of the elite pitchers in the league, and we saw that tonight."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.