Mets' Young finds good luck charms are losers, too

June 09, 1993|By Jeff Bradley | Jeff Bradley,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- It took Anthony Young a year and a little over month to lose 20 straight decisions and pen his name dubiously into the New York Mets' record book. Along that rugged path, he pitched a few games worse than the one he threw last night at Shea Stadium. He certainly threw a few better.

As a matter of fact, Young's performance in the Mets' 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs would have been absolutely forgettable had it not been the record-setter. Young should be blessed with such good fortune.

As it was, he tried everything imaginable to change his luck. Tacked all over his locker were good-luck charms sent by fans: rabbits' feet, religious medals, voodoo dolls and the like. The Mets even asked Young if he wanted to change his number to 13, like Roger Craig did in 1963 to end his losing skid at 18 games. Young passed.

"I started the streak with [number] 19 and I'll end it with 19," he said.

He just wasn't up to it. Young said he lacked "good juice" on his fastball and it showed as he was unable to put hitters away. The Cubs nicked him for four single runs, a couple of the two-out variety. In what was his second appearance this season as a starter, Young (0-6) went six innings, allowed nine hits and four runs and left with the Mets down 4-0.

"I felt like I was pitching in trouble all night," said Young. "In a way, I feel lucky that I only gave up three earned runs."

He made a few big pitches and a few bad pitches. He witnessed some bad defense -- Vince Coleman played a single into a double in left. And played some bad defense himself -- his second-inning error led to an unearned run.

That made it all fitting, perhaps. Because to lose 20 straight decisions -- which moved Young past Craig Anderson's Mets record of 19, established from 1962-64 -- you've got to do a little bit of everything along the way. And it takes a team effort, of course.

"He pitched out of a few jams, he stayed tough," Dallas Green said. "At one point, if we get a run in from third, hold them down, we have a chance to get right after them. But to do that, everybody's got to do their job. We had too many guys who didn't."

So Young completed the record as a starting pitcher, which was the way it all began for him last May 6, against Cincinnati. He lost the streak's first eight in that role before dropping 11 straight as a reliever -- six last year and five more this season. Remarkably, Young has had his bright moments during the streak, including a string of 11 saves last year. Did he ever imagine something like this could happen?

"I try not to even think about it," Young said, patiently answering wave after wave of questions. "It ain't a good feeling."

As for Young, a more infamous record awaits on the horizon. Three more L's are all that stand between Young and Cliff Curtis of the Boston Braves, owner of the all-time major-league mark -- 23 -- that has stood since 1911.

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