Young won't dwell on end of streak, hopes to start new one

ARLINGTON, Texas – This wasn’t how Jacob Young envisioned the streak coming to an end. If he was finally going to be thrown out trying to steal a base, he didn’t want it to be the result of an overslide.

“You’d rather get thrown out by six steps than have something like that happen,” the Nationals rookie said with a laugh. “But in my mind, it was going to end eventually. I feel like throughout (the streak), we were able to change a lot of games doing it. We’ll just keep on going and start a new one.”

Young had been a perfect 25-for-25 stealing bases since making his major league debut late last season. It was the fifth-longest streak to begin a career in major league history. And when he took off for second in the top of the ninth Wednesday night, he had good reason to believe he was about to be 26-for-26.

Young beat Rangers catcher Jonah Heim’s throw, his left hand reaching second base before shortstop Corey Seager applied the tag. But his momentum carried him past the bag, and perhaps with a little extra push by Seager’s glove, he came off the base with the tag still applied. Second base umpire Alan Porter called him out, and thus did the streak end.

Young had a brief conversation with Porter, asking about the possibility of a push. The umpire told him what Seager did was legal.

“I’ve slid a long time,” Young said. “It definitely felt different than usual when someone tags.”

Not that the 24-year-old outfielder stewed over the play for long. He had already moved on this morning, already studying Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi in hopes of swiping another base or two in the series finale. But make no mistake, he’s proud of what he achieved.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s not something I ever thought of as your career starts. But it’s not going to stop me from going, that’s the main thing. Just keep on going. It’s a cool thing to have in the bank now that you know you did it. But it’s just more motivation to keep it going.”

Young was an elite basestealer in the minors, but he wasn’t perfect. Once he reached the majors, he learned the key to success at this level isn’t pure speed. It’s homework.

“It’s a lot more pre-work,” he said. “Before the game even starts, I’m watching the pitcher’s move. I’m trying to figure out what counts to go on. (First base coach Gerardo) Parra is amazing at that. He really researches the counts we can go on and take advantage of. It’s more work before the game than anything in the game.”

Batting ninth most days, Young has become a real weapon for the Nationals, often putting himself in scoring position for leadoff hitter CJ Abrams, who leads the team in RBIs despite his place in the batting order. Young, in turn, ranks second on the team in runs scored, even though he’s eighth in plate appearances.

“He’s got that mindset: He wants to do whatever he can to help us win,” manager Davey Martinez said. “Part of that is going out there and getting to that next base. He gets great jumps. And he’s very intuitive when it comes to stealing bases. Yesterday, I don’t know if you guys noticed, but he was out there during a pitching change. He came running all the way into the dugout to watch his move, because he’d never seen him before. Sat there and studied it. He really had a great jump. A good throw had to get him out.”

Now 11-for-12 this season, Young will look to begin a new streak. He’ll do so by trying to maintain his strong .351 on-base percentage, knowing you can’t steal second base if you don’t reach first base first.

“It’s really my only goal when I’m up there: To find a way to get on base, to put pressure on the defense,” he said. “I’ve been really happy with how I’ve used the bunt game and put the ball in play a bunch to put pressure on the defense and find different ways to get on.”

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