Young in control as he shuts down D-backs
Righty stymies Arizona hitters, allows one hit in six innings
PHOENIX -- There was a moment Tuesday, before he threw his first pitch, when Padres' pitcher Chris Young allowed his usual steely focus to drift into an interlude of reflection.
It started, he said, by diverting his attention from the Diamondbacks to his surroundings, something on any other day and before any other start he wouldn't have had the time or the desire for.
But this, he said, was different.
"There's a little bit of perspective sitting out so much last year," Young said. "It was fun to be back out there in a competitive environment, a big league stadium. Before the game, the national anthem, I just looked around and took it in a little bit.
"It was my dream as a kid to be out there. Last year ... I had that taken away from me."
Young might not have taken it all back on Tuesday, but he certainly gained a measure of satisfaction by the way he pitched in the Padres' 6-3 victory over the D-backs in front of a crowd of 19,177 at Chase Field.
In his first start since June 14, 2009, and eight or so months since shoulder surgery, the 6-foot-10 Young threw six scoreless innings, allowing one hit before turning the game over to the bullpen after 86 mostly-palatable pitches.
"You look at his pitching line ... it's pretty impressive," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I thought he did a good job of moving the fastball up, down and in and out. He looked in control."
To be sure, there have been few times in the last year when Young has felt in control or felt comfortable on the mound. He struggled last season, posting a 5.21 ERA, knowing that he wasn't quite right.
By June, his shoulder had betrayed him.
In August, he had arthroscopic debridement surgery, which removes loose fragments in the shoulder. His rehabilitation went without moments of peril and he was on a regular throwing program by the start of Spring Training with everything pointing to this day.
On Tuesday, Young looked very much like the same pitcher who led the Major Leagues in ERA in the first half of the 2007 season when he made the All-Star team. He got eight fly-ball outs, which included a variety of infield pop-ups or ones that were caught in foul territory.
"His angle is a little bit different. He's able to move his pitches around. He threw above our barrel," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "He misses in the high part of the strike zone and we didn't have great discipline high in the strike zone early, and it felt like the harder we swung, the more he was able to tease us with pitches that were just in the strike zone."
Young might have been at his best in the way he finished. He allowed a one-out walk to Justin Upton in the sixth inning before striking out Adam LaRoche and, after finding his slider in the sixth inning, getting Mark Reynolds to whiff on a dandy 76-mph slider to finish the inning.
"I've put in a lot of time and effort to get back out there, and I didn't expect to go out there and lose, I expect to go out and win every time I take the mound," Young said. "I wouldn't say there's joy. I wanted to go out there and be successful and help this team win a game."
He got some help, though the way Arizona pitcher Edwin Jackson was dealing fastballs early in the game, offense figured to be hard to come by.
Jackson, obtained in the offseason from the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team trade, came out throwing smoke Tuesday. During a first-inning strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez, Jackson was clocked at 97, 97 and 98 mph, the last a heater that he fired past Gonzalez for the third out of the inning.
One inning later, Jackson was still throwing hard. He allowed a single up the middle to Chase Headley on a 97-mph fastball. Three batters later, and after Nick Hundley got on base with an infield single, Everth Cabrera -- who had three hits and drove in four runs -- jumped on a 94-mph fastball for a two-run double to the gap in left-center field.
By the sixth inning, Jackson and his bullets -- he threw 94 pitches through five innings -- were gone. The Padres kept on scoring, though, as Cabrera hit a two-run triple into the gap in right-center off Leo Rosales to again bring home Headley (single) and Hundley (walk) and make it a 5-0 lead.
The D-backs scored three times in the seventh inning, but Gonzalez homered for the second time in as many days and closer Heath Bell worked a scoreless ninth inning for his first save and put the wraps on Young's first victory of the season.
"Considering everything he went through, coming off the shoulder surgery ... I know what that's like," said Padres reliever Mike Adams, who got four outs late in the game. "He was phenomenal, especially for the first time out. Hopefully he can get back out there and keep doing that."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.