For Nats, a grand holiday

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He must have known what he was talking about. Hill left a 1-2 curveball over the plate, and Young belted it into the left-field bullpen for the grand slam that turned this game into a rout.

The crowd roared as Young circled the bases, received high-fives from his teammates upon crossing the plate and got a big hug from hitting coach Lenny Harris upon returning to the dugout. The roar continued as Austin Kearns stepped into the box and might have prompted Young to doff his cap for a curtain call had Kearns not flied out on the next pitch.

“It didn’t cross my mind,” Young said of the potential curtain call. “I mean, if they would have kept at it, someone would have thrown me out to the field. It would have probably been about six or seven guys throwing my big butt out there.”

As he has done throughout the first half of his comeback season, Young led yesterday by example and energized his teammates to victory right when they looked on the verge of dismay following an offensive drought in which they hadn’t scored more than four runs in any of their last 13 games.

Such is the 33-year-old’s role on this club.

“I guess that is part of being one of the leaders on the team,” he said. “To help boost morale.”

Young has done so off the field with his ever-present smile and willingness to talk with anyone who needs a minute, but his contributions on the field shouldn’t be ignored, either.

On a young ballclub that has experienced so many highs and lows over the last three months, one man has consistently carried his teammates. And on Independence Day, the Nationals were lucky to have Young on their side.

“It’s been quite a trip,” Zimmerman said. “Just to watch him hit, I’ve never seen anything like it for this long. You get guys that go two weeks or 20 to 25 games. He’s been doing it for a month and a half now. It’s just amazing. It’s fun to watch. I’m glad I have a good seat for it.”

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