Tigers edged by Indians 3-2
DETROIT (AP) — Torii Hunter has done a lot of things and put up some big numbers in his 18-season career. Sacrifice bunts, though, aren’t exactly his specialty.
He had three last season, one the year before and none in the 10 seasons before that.
But in the Detroit Tigers’ 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, manager Brad Ausmus had Hunter try to get a bunt down in the eighth with no outs, runners on first and second, and Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez coming up.
Detroit was down 3-1 at the time and Hunter couldn’t get the bunt down and grounded into a double play on a two-strike pitch. Cabrera followed with a RBI single for the final margin.
“I don’t normally want to bunt in front of Miggy (Cabrera), but I wasn’t sure Tito (Cleveland manager Terry Francona) would walk him,” Ausmus said. “And even if he did, I’m feeling very good with the way Victor and Austin (Jackson) are swinging the bat right now.”
The Tigers’ right fielder offered no excuses.
“I didn’t do my job,” Hunter said. “If I get that bunt down, we probably win. Once it got to be 0-2, I was trying to slap something that way, but I hit it right at the bag (first base). I’ve driven in some runs in my career, and you always want to be swinging the bat in that situation, but this is a job, and I’m the employee. I’m the soldier. If my manager wants to me to bunt, I’m going to bunt. I just didn’t get the job done.
“I might bunt once every 10 years, but you have to be able to do it.”
Cabrera also drove in Detroit’s other run with a first-inning groundout.
The Tigers, who had beaten the Indians 18 of the previous 23 games, had a last chance to tie it in the ninth.
John Axford pitched the ninth for his fifth save for Cleveland and got out of a jam with a runner on third to seal the win. Avila doubled and went to third on center fielder Michael Bourn’s error with one out. Axford then struck out pinch-hitter Don Kelly and got Rajai Davis on a groundout to end the game.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez (0-1) gave up three runs — two earned — and two hits in five innings, walking four and striking out eight.
“The cold was just incredible. I’ve never pitched in this kind of weather in my life,” Sanchez said. “Even in Minnesota it has always been in the 40′s, and today it was more like 30. In the first inning, I never got warm. After that, I got a little better and I was able to get ahead of the hitters.”
Cleveland starter Zach McAllister (2-0) allowed a run and four hits over six innings with two walks and four strikeouts, and Yan Gomes hit a two-run triple in the second.
“He used his fastball well early in the game,” Francona said of McAllister. “It was a great effort. He kept us off the field.”
NOTES: All players on both teams wore No. 42 in observance of “Jackie Robinson Day.” Tuesday was the official celebration around the majors, but the game between Detroit and Cleveland was postponed due to inclement weather. It was 42 degrees when the game began Wednesday night. ... Bourn made his season debut after missing the first 13 games with a left hamstring strain he suffered during spring training. Bourn came off the disabled list Tuesday. He was 0 for 4 with a walk and a run scored. ... Due to early season postponements, Detroit LHP Drew Smyly — the Tigers’ fifth starter — has yet to start a game. He has made two relief appearances and hasn’t allowed a run in six innings. Smyly is scheduled to make his first start Friday. ... Thursday afternoon’s scheduled starters are RHPs Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers and Danny Salazer (0-1, 6.75) for the Indians.