DETROIT -- The baseball rocketed off Delmon Young's bat and soared through the air on a line, low enough to avoid having the wind knock it down, but high enough to scrape the ceiling of your local gymnasium.
What mattered was the distance.
It was struck hard enough to carry beyond Comerica Park's left-field wall, resulting in another big hit in another strong postseason for a player who is suddenly a Detroit postseason hero. Young's fourth-inning shot helped propel the Tigers to a 2-1 win over the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, putting Detroit one win away from the World Series.
"The wind was blowing in most of the night," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "That's pretty much the only way you would've hit a home run tonight."
Then again, Detroit is getting used to Young launch October long balls.
The designated hitter's leadoff blast off New York starter Phil Hughes was the seventh postseason home run of his two-year Tigers career. That moved Young two ahead of Hank Greenberg (five in four postseasons between 1934-45) and Craig Monroe (five in the 2006 playoffs) for the most by a Detroit hitter.
Young's 13 RBIs in his postseason career for the Tigers are tied with Miguel Cabrera and Kirk Gibson for the second-most in team history. Greenberg boasts the franchise record with 22.
In the regular season, the 27-year-old Young hit .267 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs in 151 games, ending the year with a .216 average over his final 28 games. In this ALCS, he has hit .308 (4-for-13) with two homers and four RBIs.
Young has picked the perfect time to heat up.
Delmon Young is one of only five players with a combined five home runs in consecutive postseason series against the Yankees.
2011 ALDS, ALCS
1978 ALCS, 1980 ALCS
1996 ALDS, 1998 ALDS
1952 WS, 1953 WS
1955 WS, 1956 WS
2003 ALCS, 2004 ALCS
"It feels good," said Young, who will be eligible for free agency this winter. "We all want to help win games in the postseason right now, and everyone is doing what they can. And someone every day is going to be doing something to help win ballgames."
Young's five playoff home runs against the Yankees are tied with five others for the third-highest career total against New York. Only Duke Snider (10), George Brett (six) and Juan Gonzalez (six) have more. Young is the only hitter in Tigers history to have more than two postseason home runs against the Yankees on his resume.
In last October's AL Division Series, Young hit three home runs against New York. He had five homers in nine postseason games a year ago.
"I've seen him do it last year, too," Tigers outfielder Quintin Berry said. "I'm glad he's able to continue doing what he did for this team last year. He's huge for us. We need him coming through like that. That gave us that jump in the beginning to make us feel like we had this."
Off the bat, Young was not completely certain he had it.
"I knew I hit it hard enough," said Young, who then smirked. "But we weren't in Yankee Stadium, so I had to wait an extra 30 feet for it to land."