2005. Torii Hunter (almost) single-handedly defeats Cleveland

Wednesday June 1, 2005

Some insight into Hunter’s brain from Michael Rand in the Star Tribune (6/2/2005):

Things are going a baseball player’s way when in the fraction of a second it takes to decide whether to swing, he hacks at a pitch he had no plans to offer at and the result is a grand slam.

Such was the charmed life of Torii Hunter on Wednesday night in a 6-2 Twins victory over Cleveland before an announced Metrodome crowd of 20,739.

The Twins trailed 2-0 with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning when Hunter came up. Lefthander Cliff Lee tried to get ahead with a curve ball, expecting Hunter to be sitting on a fastball.

Truth is, Lee was right. But the pitch hung a little, and…

“My hands said, `Yes,’-” Hunter said. “Most people don’t swing at a first-pitch curve ball. I don’t know why I did. … I didn’t think I was going to swing at it. It was just a reaction.”

It was a good one. Hunter clobbered the pitch 410 feet to left-center, giving the Twins a lead they would not give up.

Later in the game, Hunter came up again with the bases loaded. This time he lofted what looked to be a harmless pop up to shallow left field. Short stop Jhonny Peralta looked to be in position to make the play, but at the last minute backed off expecting the left fielder to make the play. He didn’t, and Hunter added two more RBI to his total.

At the end of the night, Hunter was 5-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and two singles. He also made a leaping catch in the third inning that robbed former teammate Casey Blake of a sure extra-base hit.

The headline in the Pioneer Press simply read: “Torii Hunter 6, Cleveland 2.”

Box

Hunter’s night was especially sweet to him because of what happened just a few weeks earlier. In a game against Milwaukee, Hunter came to the plate in consecutive innings with the bases loaded. Both appearances ended with ground ball double plays.

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