It was early on Wednesday morning when hitting coach Lloyd McClendon sent out the chain of text messages that left the Tigers' everyday players stunned.

"I was like 'Really?'" Torii Hunter said of his reaction upon finding out what the lineup would be later that night in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series -- and the expression was justified.

Manager Jim Leyland put the 38-year-old in the leadoff spot with the reigning Triple Crown winner batting second. It was mayhem. It was unconventional. It was desperate. It was anti-Leyland.

It was genius.

With Hunter at the top and Miguel Cabrera right behind him the Tigers scored five runs in one inning off Red Sox starter Jake Peavy notched nine hits and won 7-3 at Comerica Park. The lineup change helped the Tigers tie this ALCS at 2 and it might have had an important carry-over effect: Austin Jackson finally got going.

"Leyland has a meaning behind everything" Hunter said. "Fifty-one years in this game I'm pretty sure he's picked up some wisdom along the way. When he's doing something he has meaning behind it and you really can't question a guy like that. You can always second-guess him but he knows what he's doing and you saw today. It kind of created havoc for us and we were able to relax. It changes mindsets you know. When you put Austin from leadoff to eighth it changed his mindset. He was comfortable."

The Tigers' traditional leadoff hitter entered 3-for-33 with 18 strikeouts and Leyland knew he had to do something. He didn't want to take Jackson out of the lineup completely because of the defense he brings to center field particularly with a contact pitcher like Doug Fister on the mound. And Leyland didn't want to move anybody from the bottom third up because well it's not like anybody else had been setting the world on fire lately.

Leyland's compromise was chaotic if not a little charming.

Hunter -- 7-for-16 with a homer lifetime against Peavy -- batted leadoff for the first time since he was a fresh-faced 23-year-old rookie with the Twins in 1999. Cabrera hit second for the first time since his first full season in the big leagues while with the Marlins nine years and several-dozen pounds ago. And everyone else moved up with Prince Fielder Victor Martinez Jhonny Peralta Alex Avila and Omar Infante following respectively.