On any other day, it would have been a great outing for Chris Young. One run, seven strikeouts, six innings — his best start of the year.
Best of all, for Young, “We won, bottom line.”
But on the first Father’s Day since his father, Charles, died after a long fight with cancer, there was more sentiment than just his numbers on the mound.
“I think actually last year on Father’s Day was the last time he saw me pitch,” Young said. “A year later, certainly he’s in my thoughts. A lot of great memories, and some emotional times as well.”
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Young’s demeanor on the mound, despite the thoughts of his father, wasn’t emotional, though. Young stayed level-headed and calm through his outing.
On the first pitch of the third inning, Tigers right fielder Steven Moya smacked one off Young into the right-field stands. As Moya circled the bases, Young stood behind the mound with his eyes on the infield grass, adjusted his belt, then the brim of his hat, and stepped back on the rubber.
At that moment, it seemed as if nothing had happened to Young. And for the rest of the game, almost nothing did happen to Young. He allowed two more hits before being replaced by Joakim Soria in the seventh inning, giving the Royals a quality start which led to a 2-1 win in 13 innings.
It was Young's father last year, who told Young when Young had been taken out of the rotation, “Worry about what you can control.”
On Sunday, those words rang through Young’s performance.
“Every day, just the way I live my life,” Young said about what parts of his dad he carries with him. “My dad was a good man, and I try to emulate him and just give my best effort every day, regardless of whether my father is here or not.”
Sunday was, in fact, Young’s best effort of the season. It was only the second time this season the 37-year-old made it through six innings, and his first start where he allowed one run or less since Oct. 2, 2015.
He’s still allowed a home run in each of his starts this season. But there’s been signs of improvement from Young in his last two starts, as he’s only allowed one home run in each. In his previous three starts, he relinquished a combined 11.
“I felt comfortable,” Young said. “I wasn’t fighting myself as much as I have been at times. I’d like to think it’s something I can build on and keep moving forward.”
Manager Ned Yost said Young was “classic C.Y.” on Sunday. It was the same Young who started 18 games last year and finished with with a 3.06 ERA, and a 2.87 ERA through the Royals’ playoff run.
Whether “classic C.Y.” is back or not, in more ways than one, Sunday wasn’t just another good outing on the mound for Young. In a meaningful day for Young, he carried what his father taught him right along with him.
“I thought about (my father) a lot today,” Young said. “I’m glad I can go out there and honor him, and go out and play a game we both love.”