Torii Hunter fully expects to face Red Sox in playoffs again this October: ‘We’ll see those guys in the postseason’
|05.19.14 at 1:20 am ET|
Torii Hunter is one of the most forthcoming players in all of baseball. And after he homered in his team’s 6-2 win over the Red Sox Sunday night, completing Detroit’s first Fenway sweep in 31 years, Hunter didn’t hold back.
He said the three-game sweep, in which the Tigers outscored the Red Sox, 13-3, doesn’t come close to erasing the heartbreak he felt last October on the same field when the Red Sox won in six games, advancing to the World Series. The last three days mean nothing more to the veteran outfielder than a preview of what is to come again in October.
“It means nothing,” Hunter told WEEI.com. “I’ve been around too long. That means nothing. This is regular season. Those guys are veterans over there. They know how to play the game. No matter what, they’re still the champs. No matter if we come in right now and beat them during the season, they’re the champs. You have to beat those guys at the end of the year and in the postseason. So, we’ll see those guys in the postseason. I know they’re going to be there. They have a veteran ball club over there and they know how to play the game.”
With the win, the Tigers improved to a major league-best 27-12, stirring memories of 1984 when the Sparky Anderson-led Tigers opened 35-5 on their way to their last World Series title. The Tigers have won six straight and 11 straight on the road, their longest since a 17-gamer in the first month of that magical 1984 season.
“Right now, we’re hot,” Hunter continued. “It’s just like if you face Oakland (28-16) right now, they’re hot. It’s going to be a battle. For us, we’re hot, it’s a battle. If Boston was hot when we came in here, it would’ve been not good for us. That’s the way baseball is. There’s no statements. They’re the champs.”
The Red Sox were shutout on Friday night by Max Scherzer, limited to one run by Rick Porcello on Saturday and scored just twice off former Red Sox farmhand Anibal Sanchez Sunday night, who was making his first start back from a blister in late April.
“Our pitching has been pretty good,” Hunter said. “Porcello has been pitching pretty well all year. Anibal is just coming back but he’s a really good pitcher. Scherzer, you know him. Max is a really good pitcher. [The Red Sox] had to face those guys and they’ve been pitching pretty well. And fortunately, our offense has been pretty good, too, the last couple of weeks. It was tough. It was a tough series. You don’t buy into that we’re trying to pay these guys back. We’re not making no statement. I’ve been around too long and that’s not true. That’s media-driven and maybe some fans but nothing to do with the players.”
The Tigers have been riding the red-hot bat of Miguel Cabrera again. He had three more hits Sunday night, extending his hitting streak to nine games, during which he’s blazing at a .441 clip. Sunday night, following a Hunter fly out in the third, Sox starter Jake Peavy worked a fastball in on his hands with two outs and Cabrera managed to dump the ball over the head of Brock Holt for an RBI single to tie the game, 1-1. The next batter, Victor Martinez homered to the Red Sox bullpen and the Tigers had a 3-1 lead and didn’t look back.
“Good hitters get jammed,” Hunter said. “That lets you know that he stays on the ball a long time. For him to get jammed and muscle that over the third baseman. I thought that was pretty impressive with a runner in scoring position. We were able to score a run there. Everything Miggy does is fun. He knows how to play the game, he knows how to hit. You see him making plays at first base. So, he’s a better athlete than what people think out in the field. I enjoy watching him.”
Hunter, who will always be remembered for flipping head over heels into the Red Sox bullpen trying to catch David Ortiz‘s game-tying grand slam in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS, had his own highlight Sunday night on national TV. He drilled a Junichi Tazawa hanging slider over the Monster in left for his fifth homer of the season.
“It was a slider and it hung up there and I was able to capitalize on it,” Hunter said. “It felt good. I can’t lie to you. We were winning already, 5-2, so don’t pay too much attention to it.”
That’s hard to do considering what the Tigers are doing to the rest of the American League right now.
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