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Performer of the Game: Tigers slugger Young

Performer of the Game: Tigers slugger Young

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Performer of the Game: Tigers slugger Young
DETROIT -- Thanks to a late-season pickup, Delmon Young is now a Tiger. Thanks to Monday night, he's now a postseason standout.

Young, 26, who was the top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft by the Rays, hit a seventh-inning homer off Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano, providing the decisive run in a 5-4 Detroit victory.

The solo blast, coming in Game 3 of their best-of-five American League Division Series at Comerica Park, gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the series. Thanks to Young, they could wrap up the series in Game 4 right back here on Tuesday night. It was his second homer of the series.

"I was just going up there, just trying to get a good pitch to hit," Young said. "I was just trying to get on base for [Miguel Cabrera] and Victor [Martinez] coming up after me.

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"We needed desperately to get a run, because playing a tie ballgame with the Yankees late in the game is never fun. There's always some type of spark and magic that they have late in ballgames. If they get a lead, they have [Mariano] Rivera coming in, so we're desperate to try to get some runs across the board late."

Young was playing for a struggling Twins team when he was picked up by Tigers president/general manger Dave Dombrowski on Aug. 15 for two unheralded players. He was hitting .266 with 18 homers and 55 RBIs, and the Tigers needed him to supply some balance in the first third of the batting order and to play left field. The Tigers claimed Young off waivers and then made the deal in the final hour of the standard 48-hour window he was available.

It was a rare trade between AL Central rivals. Including right-hander Doug Fister, who was obtained from the Mariners, the pair has made a tremendous contribution to Detroit's postseason chances.

"No. 1, that's Dave Dombrowski's credit, not mine," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said about the Young deal. "He claimed him and we ended up being able to trade for him. You have to give Dave credit.

"Delmon was one of the guys that was huge down the stretch for Minnesota last year. We knew that. At pressure time last year, he did well for the Twins -- one of the big RBI guys down the stretch. We thought it would be a nice addition. Dave was fortunate enough to get him for us."

Young finished the season batting .274 with five homers and 30 RBIs in 40 games as the Tigers won the division by 15 games. In his first at-bat in the suspended Game 1 against CC Sabathia at Yankee Stadium, Young homered into the short right-field porch. The Tigers eventually lost that game, but perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come.

Throughout history, Major League Baseball's postseason is full of great performances by unheralded players. Young, who had never hit a homer in 27 playoff at-bats coming into this postseason, is the latest of them.

"The total year has been up and down," he said. "But ever since I came to Detroit, there have been a lot of positives."

Like this one on Monday night: The Yankees had just tied the score at 4 against Justin Verlander in the top of the seventh, and there was one out and nobody on when Young took a crack at Soriano's first pitch and drove it out again to right.

Young is a right-handed hitter, and on both occasions in this series, he has homered to the opposite field.

"It was a fastball away in the area that I was set up in," said Yankees catcher Russell Martin. "If you want to get beat in that situation, obviously it's to the opposite field. He just put a good swing on the ball."

Verlander, on his feet in the Tigers' dugout, couldn't believe his good fortune as he watched Young's shot soar out.

"Obviously, I was elated," Verlander said. "Whatever it may be, we always seem to find a way. Somebody different every night. And tonight it was Delmon."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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