Michael Young did some serious hitting, Chris Young did some serious pitching and Texas came off skid row on Saturday with a 6-5 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. The victory enabled the Rangers to clinch their first outright Silver Boot trophy and the accompanying state bragging rights for 2005.
More importantly, in the big picture, it snapped a five-game losing streak and helped the Rangers (38-34) gain a measure of stability on what had previously been an extremely rocky road trip.
Michael Young set the tone by hitting home runs on his first two trips to the plate off Houston right-hander Brandon Backe. The second homer, a two-run shot in the third, put the Rangers up, 4-0, and at that point, made Young 9-for-9 lifetime against Backe.
The first homer by Young gave Texas its first lead of the road trip after four games of trial and error. On a day when Houston was honoring Jimmy Wynn, who was dubbed the "Toy Cannon," Young had the kind of ammunition that Wynn could appreciate.
Backe finally got Young out on a grounder to third in the fifth. That lowered his batting average against Backe to .900.
"A lot of that is luck," Young said. "I've been fortunate to have a couple of balls fall in that I didn't hit particularly hard. There are guys I'm very comfortable against and I'm 0-for-15.
"So, it's just one of those strange things. I have a lot of respect for the guy. He goes after me and has good stuff. I've just been fortunate."
The Rangers needed that early power outburst in the worst way after constantly falling behind on the road trip. Once he was staked to a four-run cushion, Chris Young poured fastballs at the Astros, and they couldn't catch up to them.
Young, the pitcher, was as impressive as Young, the position player. Chris Young had a no-hitter going through 5 2/3 innings, and Houston didn't break through until after the Rangers had built a 6-0 lead.
"Chris was big today," Michael Young said. "We needed a starter to step up and give us the innings that we needed. We gave him a bit of a cushion in the beginning and he worked with that. You love to see a guy throw zeros up there after we give him some runs."
Young's no-hit bid ended when Craig Biggio lined a clean single to center. Lance Berkman and Morgan Ensberg followed with back-to-back homers to make it a 6-3 game.
Young said he didn't have a concentration lapse or letdown after the no-hitter was broken up.
"It's the middle of the order," he said. "They hit there for a reason."
Young went back out and hung up another zero in the seventh, turning the game over to the Texas bullpen with a three-run lead. It got scary for the Rangers in the eighth, when Biggio hit a two-run homer off John Wasdin. But a well-rested Francisco Cordero came along for a five-out save. It was his first save since June 15 and first multiple-inning save this season.
The Rangers saw pleasant developments on a lot of fronts. Second baseman Alfonso Soriano, who had been slumping during the road trip, had a two-run double in the third that proved to be the difference.
"I saw the ball better today," Soriano said. "Hopefully, that [double] will help get me going in the right direction again." For Chris Young, who has a 3.21 ERA, a case could be made that he deserves All-Star consideration. Young started the day fifth in the American League in ERA.
The Rangers beat an Astros team that had been playing extremely well at home. Houston had an eight-game home winning streak snapped after charging hard at the end.
Young at the plate, Young on the mound. It was a combination that enabled the Rangers to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.