By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Put Seattle Mariners right-hander Chris Young on the mound at Safeco Field, and he’s in a class by himself. For proof, to steal a line from manager Lloyd McClendon, just check the book.
Young worked into the seventh inning Monday on a glorious Memorial Day afternoon at Safeco Field, and yielded just two hits in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
“What a godsend for this rotation,” McClendon said. “He’s just been tremendous. In and out. Up and down. He never wavers. He knows what he wants to do. He executes it pretty well.”
Now, about the book: This makes eight career starts for Young at Safeco, and he’s 5-0. No other pitcher has made as many as seven starts at the corner at Edgar and Dave without suffering a loss.
That tidbit comes courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau. That’s the book.
“It’s a great fit (for Young at Safeco),” catcher Mike Zunino said. “He’s not afraid to throw to contact. He knows exactly what he wants to do. That’s what helps him. He’s so well prepared for his outings.”
Young (4-2), carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and didn’t lose his shutout until the seventh. Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar and Fernando Rodney closed out the victory.
“I had a nice rhythm,” Young said. “I made some adjustments in-between this start and my last one. I just tried to be aggressive in the strike zone early.”
“It’s just minor stuff,” he explained, “like putting the slider a little bit deeper in my hand, creating a little more depth on it. Working with my glove side to stay closed a little bit longer and staying through the target.”
“I don’t think he was doing anything we didn’t expect,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He was really efficient pitching above the zone at times. … He put the ball into some gray areas, and we didn’t square it up very well.”
The Mariners, in contrast, roughed up Angels starter Tyler Skaggs (4-2) for two runs in the first inning and three more in the second before he settled into a groove and pitched through the seventh with no further damage.
Skaggs contributed to his own problems in the first by throwing to the wrong fielder on a play at first. A two-out error by shortstop Erick Aybar opened the door to three unearned runs in the second.
Robinson Cano had RBI singles in both innings, while Michael Saunders had a gift single in the first, on Skaggs’ blunder, and an RBI triple in the second. Cano finished 3-for-4 and raised his average to .332.
The Angels didn’t get their first hit until Kole Calhoun lined a one-out single back through the box in the sixth inning. Calhoun was hitless in his previous 14 at-bats since returning from the disabled list.
Young retired the next two batters and took a five-run lead to the bottom of the inning. He lost the shutout when Albert Pujols opened the seventh by driving an 87-mph fastball over the left-field wall.
After a one-out walk later in the inning, Young exited to loud cheers from the crowd of 22,710. He had thrown 98 pitches when replaced by Furbush, who retired the next two hitters.
Farquhar pitched a one-two-three eighth before Rodney worked the ninth in a non-save situation. The victory pulled the Mariners back to .500 at 25-25.
“(Young) has pitched incredible all year,” Saunders said. “Obviously, he went out there and did it again today. … Even the games he has lost, he’s kept us right in the game.
“He doesn’t have the most overpowering stuff, but he knows how to pitch. He’s an All-Star. He’s a veteran. You not only know what you’re getting on the mound, but he brings a great veteran presence to the clubhouse as well.”
Young professed to being aware of the no-hitter — but only marginally so.
“I try not to get caught up in results,” he said. “They hit some balls hard early, balls that easily could have been hits. I just want to go out and help the team win. Execute good pitches.
“If you do that enough, chances are you come out on top.”
It’s a winning formula, for Young anyway, at Safeco. It’s in the book.