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Big League Stew

Torii Hunter’s three-run walk-off homer turns a rough day for the Tigers into a spectacular win

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Here's the thing about the Detroit Tigers: They just have so much going for them that even when two stars falter, they can still pull-off some last-minute magic.

Entering Thursday's game against the Oakland Athletics the main storyline was whether their Cy Young candidate-starting pitcher Max Scherzer could become baseball's first 20-game winner.

As much as some baseball pundits want to discredit the win as a viable statistic, collecting 20 of them — especially while still in August — is a worthwhile accomplishment. Scherzer would have joined teammate Justin Verlander in the 20-wins-in-August club. Verlander did it in 2011. But that didn't happen. Scherzer got shelled for a season-high six runs and lasted only five innings, tied for his shortest outing of 2013. Not good.

Then Miguel Cabrera left the game with an injury. Eek! It looked like nothing but hanging heads in Detroit. The A's were leading 6-1 in the sixth and the Tigers were staring at a four-game sweep. Consider this a testament to how dangerous this Tigers team is — it clawed back. First, with a Prince Fielder homer. Then with a ninth-inning RBI single by Victor Martinez.

When Torii Hunter came to bat with two outs in the ninth and two runners on, looking at a 6-4 deficit, a single swing could have changed the tone of the entire day for the Tigers. It could have turned a tough afternoon at the ballpark into one of those wins you talk about during the playoffs when you're citing a team's resiliency.

In storybook fashion, Hunter lifted the 1-1 pitch from A's closer Grant Balfour into left-centerfield, clearing the fence and receiving a hero's welcome as he crossed home plate. A 7-6 victory secured, the prospect of a four-game sweep gone, heads high once again in Detroit.

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(Getty Images)

How pumped was Hunter? Well ...

If emotions are riding that high in Detroit in August, October oughta be something else.

Baseball season's in full swing. Don't miss a thing.
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