For the past few weeks, the large "Michael Young Hit Count" banner in right field has recorded his latest pursuit of the 200-hit mark. His 3-for-4 performance on Saturday, part of the Rangers' 18-hit barrage in a 12-6 rout of the Angels at Ameriquest Field, got him there, making him only the fourth player since 1940 with four straight 200-hit seasons. The others are Hall of Famers Wade Boggs (seven) and Kirby Puckett (four) and Seattle All-Star Ichiro Suzuki, who reached 200 for the sixth time with three hits on Saturday.
But Young, a low-key sort who tries to avoid attention, was glad to put the milestone behind him. Not that he didn't enjoy the moment, which he said was more special than being named MVP of this year's All-Star Game.
"This means I've been healthy and consistent all year, and those are always my two biggest goals heading into the season." said Young, who hit a triple in the fifth and reached the 200 mark with a seventh-inning RBI single to center. "The All-Star Game obviously was on a bigger stage, but it was just kind of a one-moment type of thing. They're both special. But I'm much more interested in having good seasons and helping my team win games."
As for the company he now keeps, Young called it "humbling" to be on the same level as Boggs, Puckett and Ichiro. Rangers manager Buck Showalter called it appropriate.
"That's right where he belongs," Showalter said. "That's what it says. Someday they'll be talking about people striving to be in Mike's class. It's an honor to write his name in the lineup and watch him perform. His substance is his style."
While Young was making his case as one of the elite hitters of his era, Gary Matthews Jr. made his latest statement in his quest for a Gold Glove.
The Rangers centerfielder, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two singles, made another sensational catch over the wall, turning his body in one direction, then whirling around in the other before leaping to rob Garret Anderson of a home run in the fifth.
"I thought the ball was going to end up on the track," Matthews explained. "Then I realized it was going deeper, so I had to spin to adjust."
His adjustment looked beautiful to starting pitcher Adam Eaton (6-4), who allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
"It was awesome," he said. "Obviously, something special is going on this year with Gary, and I'm glad I was part of it in a positive fashion."
It was a positive night all around for Eaton, who was staked to a four-run lead in the first inning, as the Rangers, starved for runs in back-to-back 2-1 losses the previous two games, feasted on Angels pitching.
The Rangers teed off on Angels starter John Lackey (11-11) almost from his opening pitch, as the first four batters got hits and the first six reached base. The Rangers finished with 18 hits and were helped by five Angels errors.
Given the lead, Eaton stopped worrying about painting corners and threw strikes. He gave up a season-high 11 hits, including a solo homer to Chone Figgins that was part of the first cycle against the Rangers since Toronto's Jeff Frye did it on Aug. 17, 2001, but he didn't issue a walk and the Rangers led, 8-4, when Eaton was replaced by C.J. Wilson on the seventh.
"I didn't want to put anybody on base without them having to earn it," Eaton said. "I took some pride in that tonight. Giving up 11 hits wasn't that big a deal. Leaving the game with the lead was a big deal."
Offensively, Mark Teixeira had a huge night, going 4-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs, and rookie Joaquin Arias picked up his first Major League hit, a pinch-hit single in the eighth.