Young commands secondary pitches
Improved changeup keyed Sunday's dominant performance
SAN DIEGO -- As he stood in the on-deck circle in the top of the eighth inning at Miller Park on Sunday, Padres rookie catcher Nick Hundley didn't exactly have the itch to dig in for another at-bat, which isn't at all like a position player.
Instead, Hundley couldn't wait to get the half inning over so that he could get behind the plate again in the bottom of the inning to catch Padres pitcher Chris Young, who had a perfect game going at the time.
"You've got to do what you've got to do offensively ... but I definitely want to get back there and finish this thing out. I couldn't wait to get back out there," Hundley said before the start of Monday's game against the Dodgers at PETCO Park.
Young was four outs away from throwing the first no-hitter or perfect game in franchise history when he surrendered a home run to Milwaukee's Gabe Kapler after setting down the first 23 hitters he faced in a 10-1 complete-game victory.
Hundley called for a slider on the pitch, but Young wanted to throw his fastball, which he did. Hundley said it was only the third time they weren't in complete agreement on pitch selection during the game.
Hundley, recalled from Triple-A Portland on July 4, caught Young for just the third time on Sunday against the Brewers -- well, four, Hundley was quick to point out, if you count the one time he did so during Spring Training.
"But that's Spring Training," Hundley said, smiling.
Hundley said he really didn't pay attention to Young's perfect game until the sixth inning. It was one inning later, when the 24-year-old, who hadn't caught above the Double-A level prior to this season, started feeling anxious.
"Once we got to the seventh, that's as nervous as I've been catching. There was so much riding on every pitch," Hundley said. "It was an incredible feeling."
Hundley was impressed with the way Young aggressively went after Milwaukee's hitters and how pounded the strike zone early and with success. All told, Young needed just 96 pitches to cover nine innings, 67 of them strikes.
Hundley specifically pointed to the third inning as an example of how dominant and how efficient Young was.
Young threw nine pitches in the inning, all strikes. Better still, he got Bill Hall looking at two strikes before striking him out swinging. Jason Kendall followed and he also looked at two strikes before grounding out to shortstop Sean Kazmar. Young finished the inning by striking out Manny Parra struck on three pitches to end the inning.
"It was impressive to watch. He executed every pitch I wanted him to throw," Hundley said. "We had a great game plan going into it. It made my job a lot easier. He executed everything."
Including using his secondary stuff as much as commanding his fastball up and down in the strike zone, which has always been a staple of what Young tries to do each start. But on Sunday, he got a lot of mileage out of his curveball, slider and an improved changeup.
"His off-speed stuff was probably the best that I have seen since he's been here," Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said.
Young threw about 10 changeups according to Balsley, which is more than he typically throws. Sometimes he doesn't throw it at all. But on Sunday, the pitch was devastating for him against the Brewers.
"All of his off-speed pitches were good, but I think the way he's throwing his changeup, it's coming out of his hand with the exact rotation as a fastball. It's true. He's got good arm action on it," Hundley said.
San Diego manager Bud Black agreed.
"It was probably the best that I have seen him mix his three pitches," Black said. "The secondary pitches were consistently good ... first-pitch changeups, 1-0 changeups in situations where he relies on fastballs."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.