When the American League Championship Series started, Delmon Young wasn't on the roster.
Despite a club-record three home runs in the AL Division Series win against the Yankees, Young suffered an oblique injury in Game 5 of the ALDS and was ruled out for the ALCS.
Then there was a change of plans.
When the Tigers needed his injured body the most, Young came through with two home runs and three RBIs in Thursday's 7-5 win over the Rangers, cutting the series deficit to 3-2.
"It took me a while to get going, but I was glad to get going when we needed it," Young said.
Magglio Ordonez suffered a broken right ankle and was replaced by Young after Game 1 in Texas. The plan was to keep Young off the roster, because if he got hurt in the ALCS and had to be replaced, he wouldn't be eligible for the World Series, should the Tigers advance. But with no other choice, Young was brought back.
Young went 0-for-4 on Monday, sat for Game 3 and went 0-for-4 on Wednesday, showing the effects of his injury in the field as well.
But as the Tigers have done all series, they fought through the injuries and were able to stave off elimination.
"I've been able to get my timing back the last couple of games," Young said. "This is my first game playing back to back, so I didn't lose my rhythm. I was able to get the bat head on a cutter and a high fastball."
Young now has five home runs in the postseason, which ties a club record with Craig Monroe in 2006. The first came on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. It was Young's third playoff home run that came on the first pitch. The second blast came on an 0-1 count and capped off a natural cycle in as many batters for the Tigers in the sixth inning, a first in postseason history.
Young hit four home runs in 84 games with Minnesota before being traded to Detroit on Aug. 15. Since then, he's been a dream come true. He hit a home run in his first at-bat with a Tigers jersey on -- against the Twins -- and hit seven more the rest of the way before his postseason run.
"Oh man, he's unreal," Tigers reliever Phil Coke said. "That guy's unconscious right now."
Perhaps the metaphor was a poor choice of words, given the fragile state of several Tigers players. There's no doubt Young has been hampered by the injury, although he said it affects his throwing more than his hitting, and that was evident Thursday.
"It goes in and out," Young said of his injury. "Sometimes it feels worse. It depends on what I actually did during the day to aggravate it or make it better."
Young became the first Tigers player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since Ordonez in 2006 -- the game in which the Tigers beat the A's for the AL pennant.
The former No. 1 Draft pick in 2003, Young hasn't lived up to expectations. But since coming to Detroit, he's shown why he had so much potential, and the Tigers are reaping the rewards.
"He's a young guy, but he's a veteran. He's got some time in the big leagues," Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez said. "He knows what he's doing out there."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less