Delmon Young gets Tigers offense going

DETROIT — Irony, thy name is Delmon Young.

Even more ironic is the fact that the Tigers need him.

Before Saturday night’s game, a reporter asked manager Jim Leyland about Young being the fans’ new target of ire now that Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn are no longer in town.

“I think he’s been hitting the ball pretty good recently, to be honest with you,” Leyland said. “He hasn’t gotten results in a lot of cases.

“He can be a run producer. Last year, he had a big last month for us after we got him. Hopefully, we can get a repeat performance. He’s got a track record.”

Young had six home runs and 20 RBI in 24 games last September as the Tigers marched to the Central Division crown. He had 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 50 games in August and September combined.

Young has not been as spectacular in 2012 as he was down the stretch last season. Entering Saturday, he was batting .265 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 114 games.

So all the much-maligned outfielder/designated hitter did against the Los Angeles Angels Saturday was go out and prove his manager right.

Young went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run and an RBI. The key run driven home came in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and the Tigers trailing 3-0. Detroit (68-58) eventually rallied for a 5-3 victory.

“Delmon swung the bat extremely well,” Leyland said. “I’m going to be thinking about playing him (Sunday). He feels good.”

Young was just happy that hitting the ball hard finally led to some good results.

“The ball’s not going right to the shortstop, center fielder, right fielder, so it’s a good thing,” Young said. “I’ve been putting the ball in play, just need to hope the balls find holes.”

Before the game, Leyland said he was considering giving Young another day off and play Brennan Boesch.

Bet on that to change.

“Delmon had a huge night and feels real good,” Leyland said. “When you’ve got a veteran like that who feels real good, you’re probably smart to play him.”

Although Young is never going to be at the level of a Miguel Cabrera or a Prince Fielder, Young can be an impact player offensively.

“When you watch him take batting practice, he hits some of the hardest line drives I’ve ever seen,” Alex Avila said. “We have guys like Miguel and Prince, they hit the ball hard, but Delmon’s as strong as them and can hit the ball just as hard.

“When he’s spraying the ball all around the field like that, he’s pretty dangerous.”

Young is now tied with Jhonny Peralta for fourth on the team in RBI with 51. Peralta had the go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth Saturday night and is another bat the Tigers need to deliver more consistently.

Young’s manager and teammates all believe in him.

“Delmon’s the kind of guy that can drive the ball in the gap and score runs quick for your team,” said Andy Dirks, who was 2 for 4 with an RBI Saturday. “He can score a guy from first in a heartbeat.

“He’s a strong guy and he’s got good hand-eye coordination. When he comes around, I mean, you saw it in the playoffs, he can do some damage.”

Young hit five home runs and had six RBI in the postseason last year, three of which came against the New York Yankees.

If Young is heating up and can sustain it, it could take some of the pressure off Cabrera and Fielder and help the Tigers win the division again.