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Young had spent much of the afternoon greeting and hugging ex-teammates on the visiting side of the field. A beloved player during his five years in Detroit, he was unceremoniously cast aside in September after a spate of off-field problems affected his on-field play.

Yesterday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland spoke with Young and commended him for turning things back around.

“The best thing that could’ve ever happened to him was when we released him,” Leyland said. “I told him that today. He had time to get his life straightened out. … He’s a good man, and I couldn’t be happier for him. I’m glad to see things going well for him.”

The last thing Leyland wanted, though, was to see Young deal his club a tough loss. Fortunately for him, Jones got his act back together just in time to strike out Young.

Kearns then hit into a fielder’s choice, advancing the tying runner to third but leaving Belliard to drive him in with two outs. But Belliard grounded out to short, the Tigers celebrated in the middle of the diamond and the Nationals couldn’t help wondering how great it would have been to see Young get the big hit.

“You think about it,” Zimmerman said. “But I would have been just as happy if he was up against the Brewers to win the game. It would have been special, but he’s got two more games to do it.”