Young has big blast for An­gels

His home run in the eighth brings tears and a win. Pu­jols has to wait an­other day.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Pe­dro Moura


Upon con­tact, Eric Young Jr. knew he had home­red. And then his mind raced to his fam­ily, to his son, Eric Young III, who died one day into his life in Jan­uary, born too pre­ma­ture to sur­vive. Young hopped out of his bat­ting stance and trot­ted around ma­jor league basepa­ths for the first time in three years.

When he re­turned to home plate, he found his fam­ily in his stands and held up three fin­gers on his left hand, in honor of his son. They did the same back to him.

Young’s home run in the eighth in­ning sup­plied the dif­fer­ence in the An­gels’ 2-1 vic­tory over the At­lanta Braves on Wed­nes­day at An­gel Sta­dium. In a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view on the field af­ter it ended, Young be­gan to cry as he dis­cussed the tragic year that he, his wife Vic­to­ria, and their fam­ily have en­dured. His grand­mother also died ear­lier this year.

“Those were tears of joy,” he said later. “I’ve shed plenty of tears this year.”

Ab­sent the in­jured Mike Trout, the An­gels (28-28) do not have a lot go­ing for them. For now, Al­bert Pu­jols’ bid for 600 home runs is tid­ing over the team and its fans, and that will con­tinue for at least an­other night. He could not homer Wed­nes­day, a night when a rather un­likely hero emerged.

“We don’t have our su­per­star in the lineup,” said Jesse Chavez, the An­gels’ start­ing pitcher. “We have to find a way to piece things to­gether.”

In his third day with the team af­ter tak­ing Trout’s spot on the ros­ter, Young ex­celled in the field, did not make an out and smashed that im­prob­a­ble shot. Over parts of the last nine sea­sons, Young, 32, had bat­ted 1,695 times in the ma­jor leagues and pro­duced only eight home runs. He had not home­red since May 12, 2014, many teams ago.

Af­ter he hit No. 599 in his sec­ond plate ap­pear­ance Tues­day, Pu­jols came up empty in three chances. In his first at-bat Wed­nes­day, Pu­jols grounded to short­stop for an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play. Pu­jols next blooped a ball off of the end of his bat, deep enough into cen­ter field to make it un­reach­able to At­lanta’s mid­dle in­field­ers, shal­low enough to make it un­reach­able to cen­ter fielder En­der In­cia­rte. Jog­ging out of the bat­ter’s box, Pu­jols set­tled for a sin­gle, pass­ing Babe Ruth on the all-time hit list. In his sixth at­tempt at 600, Pu­jols grounded to third, and in his sev­enth he struck out swing­ing.

Against Chavez, Matt Kemp be­gan the sec­ond with a solo shot to right field, his sec­ond homer in as many nights. With one out, lo­cal prod­uct Rio Ruiz drove a ball deep to left field, and Young crashed into the wall in pur­suit. His cap was knocked askew, but he caught the ball, and Chavez tipped his cap in re­sponse.

Chavez sped through the next four in­nings, con­tin­u­ing into the sev­enth, when At­lanta’s Tyler Flow­ers led off with an in­field sin­gle. Short­stop An­drel­ton Simmons fielded it but threw late to first base. Chavez struck out two of the next three men, got a ground­out, and was out of it, done for the day. He re­quired 92 pitches to fin­ish his seven best in­nings of the sea­son.

Right-han­der Blake Parker en­tered for the eighth af­ter the An­gels tied the game in the bot­tom of the sev­enth.

Their first run scored on an odd de­fen­sive se­quence, sim­i­lar to when they pushed nine runs across in Tues­day’s third in­ning. With one out and men on first and sec­ond, Shane Robin­son rapped a ball down the third-base line. Ruiz fielded it, stepped on third base, ran into hard-slid­ing Martin Mal­don­ado and de­liv­ered an off-tar­get throw to first, which al­lowed Danny Espinosa to score.

In the ninth, righthander Bud Nor­ris logged his 10th save. No An­gel had man­aged to amass 10 saves through­out 2016.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

BRAVES FIRST BASE­MAN Jace Peter­son misses the tag on the An­gels’ An­drel­ton Simmons, who reaches on a throw­ing er­ror by pitcher Arodys Viz­caino.

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