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Young man on field having most fun in ALCS

Young man on field having most fun in ALCS

NEW YORK -- Rangers veteran Michael Young waited 1,508 regular-season games for victories like this.

Monday's 8-0 rout on the Yankees' home terrain -- headlined by a phenomenal performance from Cliff Lee -- didn't just grant Texas a 2-1 edge in the American League Championship Series. It continued to prove what few outside of Texas' clubhouse believed following Game 1's bullpen meltdown: This is a Rangers team that simply won't quit.

"I'm pleased with our guys," said team president Nolan Ryan. "They've been very determined since coming out of Spring Training, and there were times down the pennant stretch where we didn't play well. And they didn't waver."

No one embodies that fighter's approach more than Young, whose postseason debut was headlined by the long, hard road it took for him to get there. Consider this: Among active Major League players, only Randy Winn has played in more regular-season games (1,717) without a playoff appearance, making wins like Monday a little surreal for the popular Rangers infielder.

"It's been awesome," said Young, the longest tenured Rangers player who is often referred to as the heart and soul of the plucky squad.


"Everyone always says how fun the postseason is and to enjoy it. But I think a lot of the guys are just really competitive," said Young. "You don't want to go out there and say, 'I'm having a great time, but I'm down a bunch of runs.' You want to make sure you stay competitive.'"

The Rangers, who have a 2-1 lead with struggling Yankees starter A.J. Burnett tasked for Game 4 on Tuesday, have done more than simply stay competitive. They have outplayed New York for the majority of the first three games, with Game 1's eighth inning -- which forfeited a four-run lead -- looking more like an anomaly than regularity.

"This team has done a good job taking advantage of the opportunity and enjoying it and trying to win ballgames," said Young, who turns 34 on Tuesday. "It's been a great atmosphere so far."

And while Lee's dominance and slugger Josh Hamilton's two homers have taken center stage, Young has quietly done what he does best: lead by example. Since shaking an 0-for-6 start in the AL Division Series with a game-changing three-run homer, Young has stepped up at the plate, going 6-for-15 (.400), with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored in the first three games of the ALCS. On Monday, he went 3-for-5 with a run scored on Hamilton's homer, a key early-inning output that helped hand the Yankees a rare home playoff loss.

"Obviously, we know they've had a lot of winning here in New York. The fans are great. They are into every game. They are into every pitch," Young said. "We love playing in this kind of setting. I think it's one of those things where we don't differentiate from where we are playing. We try to make sure we have the same effort regardless of where we are at."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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