Delmon Young played in one of eight games for the Twins from Aug. 29 through Sept. 6. The seven games that he spent in the dugout were DNP-MD (did not play -- manager's decision).
Manager Ron Gardenhire went to Young for four starts Sept. 7-10. He had one hit a game and totaled one RBI. He sat as the Twins lost the first two games of a Dome series against Oakland on Sept. 11-12.
First baseman Justin Morneau admitted after the 4-2 loss on Sept. 12 that his back was too sore to continue. He was tested and a stress fracture was discovered.
Michael Cuddyer moved from right field to first base. Gardenhire then surrounded center fielder Denard Span with Jason Kubel in right and Young in left for that Oakland finale on Sept. 13.
The Twins have played 19 games since then. Young has been in the lineup for all of them. And after all the insults we in the media hurled at him in his first 11 1/2 months of regular-season baseball in Minnesota, the Twins finally have started to see the hitter that they hoped to be adding when the large trade was made with Tampa Bay on Nov. 28, 2007.
The Twins are 15-4 in this stretch. The latest of those victories came 5-4 against Kansas City on Saturday, and the Twins enter today's final game alive and kicking in the AL Central.
Tremendous feats were performed by Young's teammates to fight off the feisty Royals:
• Starter Nick Blackburn pitched through a Royals threat in the fifth, cruised through six other innings and then was robbed of his 12th victory thanks to another edition of the (Jose) Mijares Meltdown.
• There was second baseman Nick Punto's flash of his glove to turn Mitch Maier's rocket into a double play, rather than a fifth consecutive hit during a Mijares-fueled rally in the eighth.
• There was Cuddyer geared up for a 2-0 pitch from Royals rookie lefthander Dusty Hughes and bombing it for a game-winning, 31st home run.
• Span, playing right field in the usual end-of-game defensive shift, made a diving catch to rob Alberto Callaspo for the second out in the ninth. It was a play that made Joe Nathan's 47th save easier than most of the past 20 or so.
"People might not have any idea how great that catch was by Denard," Gardenhire said. "The ball was drilled. It was sinking. He was fighting the lights. Great catch."
And yet it was Young -- Delmon the Disappointment for so many months -- who delivered the most stunning moment of a hellacious ballgame.
This was Zack Greinke's final start in a season that most baseball people figure will result in a Cy Young Award. Greinke was matching zeros with his opponent -- as he has been required to do often in 2009 -- until the sixth.
Punto grappled his way to a leadoff walk and worked his way to third with two outs. Greinke pitched to Joe Mauer and, on the fifth pitch, Mauer singled in the game's first run.
Kubel blooped a double. Cuddyer was nicked by a pitch. Bases loaded, two outs, and here came Young to face Greinke, who entered this start allowing a .208 batting average to righthanded hitters.
Greinke's first pitch was away at 95 miles per hour and Young smoked it past the right fielder and into the gap for a three-run double.
On Friday, Young had kicked off this must-win weekend with a second-pitch grand slam that made it 5-0 in the first.
That ball was crushed deep to left-center -- with an overmatched lefty in Lenny DiNardo on the mound.
This was different. This was Greinke.
"That shows the type of talent and strength this young man has as a hitter," batting coach Joe Vavra said. "He had great instruction as a kid on staying inside the ball and using right field. Now, we're seeing him pull the inside pitch and do damage that way."
Young's bat replaced Morneau's as an everyday presence in Gardenhire's lineup on Sept. 13. He is hitting .360 with eight extra-base hits and 15 RBI in 19 games.
And none of that damage has been more impressive than the bases-clearing double against Zack (Cy) Greinke.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • email@example.com