Young's historic hit helps fend off Fish

Young's historic hit helps fend off Fish

MIAMI -- Michael Young has long enjoyed a reputation as a "clutch" hitter.

His .324 career batting average with runners in scoring position is the 10th best among all active Major League hitters with at least 600 at-bats. His .334 batting average in those situations with two outs is third best among active players.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

So it would seem quite appropriate that Young's club record-breaking hit, the one that finally allowed him to pass Ivan Rodriguez, would come in a situation that he has been thriving upon all through his career.

Young's two-run single with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the eighth inning proved to be huge, as the Rangers held on to defeat the Marlins, 6-3, at Sun Life Stadium on Wednesday night.

The single was the 1,748th hit of Young's career, passing Rodriguez for the most in club history.

"Actually it means more" Young said. "I knew it would mean a lot, but now that it's finished, looking back at my career in Texas and the players I've passed, it means a lot. I have played my whole career in one uniform, and I hope I can finish that. But the most important thing tonight was getting a win."

The hit was big in that regard. Young's single gave the Rangers a three-run lead in the top of the eighth on a night when their bullpen was being pushed to the limit by the early departure of starter Tommy Hunter. The Rangers gave Hunter a 3-0 lead in the top of the third when he had to leave with a strained right hip flexor.

The Marlins had pulled to within 3-2 when Young delivered his record-breaking hit in the eighth off Marlins reliever Jay Buente.

"I'm certainly happy that it came in that situation," Young said. "I wasn't thinking about setting records. I was trying to drive in some runs and help the team win."

The Rangers held on for the 6-3 win. Josh Hamilton, who had four hits on the night, added a home run in the ninth, and Neftali Feliz struck out the side at the end for his 17th save. But Young's single was the decisive blow that allowed the Rangers to win their fourth straight and maintain their two-game lead in the American League West.

"Big hit," manager Ron Washington said. "They don't get any bigger. We certainly needed to put more cushion, and he delivered. Everybody knows what he's all about, and this is another notch to show the consistency that he has had in this game."

Young entered the game one hit behind Rodriguez, and he was starting to stumble to the finish line. Young was 0-for-3 off Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, and that left him hitless in 10 straight at-bats. But he finally caught Rodriguez with a double off Jorge Sosa to lead off the seventh.

"I came in today with a better plan and mindset," Young said. "Yesterday, I was trying to get hits rather than going up there and hitting. Yesterday, I was thinking about results and not the process."

Texas was leading, 3-2, when Young found the right-center-field gap for his 21st double of the season. But the Rangers stranded him there, and Young's record-tying hit threatened to be nothing more than a footnote in the grand scheme of the game.

The record-breaker changed all that. The Rangers were still leading by one in the eighth when Justin Smoak walked and Matt Treanor singled off Buente. Julio Borbon's grounder to first moved them to second and third, and Vladimir Guerrero, pinch-hitting for the pitcher, was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Buente then struck out Elvis Andrus, giving him a chance to get out of the inning. But first he had to deal with Young. That has never been easy for any pitcher.

Young worked the count to 2-2, fouled off a curveball and then smacked a fastball on the ground back up the middle. The ball was beyond shortstop Hanley Ramirez's grasp and bounced into center.

"I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and push some runs across," Young said.

Two runs scored, the Rangers were up, 5-3, and Young was the club's all-time hits leader.

"It's a milestone," Hamilton said. "It let's you know what kind of player he is, how hard he has worked and how consistent he has been. That was a big at-bat and a big RBI. That was a good one: a clutch hit and a memorable occasion."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.