DETROIT — Alex Avila’s home-run heroics don’t happen with out a little defense, keeping the score in check.
With two outs in the top of the eighth inning, and the Detroit Tigers trailing the Cleveland Indians, 4-3, Torii Hunter robbed Yan Gomes of what was likely a two-run hit, going fully horizontal, laying out to catch the ball just above the ground.
“You know when the ball went up I thought it was going to be caught easily but apparently it didn’t have as much air under it as I thought or it didn’t carry as far as I thought,” said manager Brad Ausmus. “Excellent play by Torii, by Old Man Torii Hunter.”
The 39-year-old Hunter wasn’t sure how much air it had under it, either. Not off the bat.
“Off the bat he had a nice big swing so I kind of just paused for a second, didn’t step back, just paused. Then I heard the sound, it was kind of like a dud sound and I was able to kind of get a good jump on it, knew it was going to be in front of me. It was one of those bleeders, I tried to give it all I had and I was able to get under the ball and make that catch. Pretty pumped up,” Hunter said.
“Just a little bleeder off the end of the bat, just tried to do everything I could right there to get under that ball. It was sinking pretty fast but I just said, ‘Feet don’t fail me now.’”
They didn’t. Hunter managed to sprint in enough to make the diving catch easily. When he got up, Chamberlain was waiting for him on the infield, with his hat raised.
“I’m a fan of baseball just as much as it is my job. Anytime somebody makes a great play, it’s always fun to see,” said Chamberlain.
The pitcher playfully gave Hunter a pat on the behind as he jogged past.
Hunter jokingly said later that he had a red mark because Chamberlain patted him so hard. But he liked the gesture.
“I appreciate that. Those guys are out there trying to throw strikes and trying to get those guys out. They’re professional hitters and he did the job,” Hunter said. “It’s just fitting for us to go out and try to make those plays and do the best you can for the pitcher. They really appreciate that when you make good plays like that.”
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