Hunter helps spark Tigers to 7-1 win over Twins

Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Torii Hunter knows he's in a good spot batting ahead of Miguel Cabrera.
With Cabrera looming on the on-deck circle Wednesday, Hunter delivered the go-ahead hit as the Detroit Tigers' offense erupted after getting blanked for six innings.
Hunter's two-run double sparked a four-run, seventh-inning outburst, and Cabrera added a three-run double as the Detroit Tigers topped the Minnesota Twins 7-1 Wednesday at Comerica Park.
Hunter signed a two-year contract with the Tigers during the off-season after five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. Hitting in front of Cabrera was one of the reasons the 38-year-old Hunter changed teams.
"That's why I'm here, to try to sometimes ease the pressure off him, to go ahead and take that role and get that hit when I can," said Hunter, who had his 45th multi-hit game this season and scored twice. "I think I've been doing that all season."
Minnesota's Kevin Correia (8-10) and Detroit's Anibal Sanchez dueled through six scoreless innings before both clubs scored in the seventh to knock out the starters.
After the Twins took the lead, Hunter got a chance to produce in the clutch following two-out singles by Bryan Holaday and Austin Jackson. He barely fouled off a 2-2 cut fastball before smacking his double over the head of second baseman Brian Dozier.
"As long as you've got outs left, anything can develop," Hunter said. "You saw it tonight. It's 1-0, Correia's pitching his butt off but once they got their run, the adrenaline of our team went to another level."
Hunter is batting .307 with 64 RBI, aided by having the game's premier hitter behind him.
"He's tough, and I've gone on record saying he's one of the toughest players I've ever managed. In big situations, he gets tougher," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of Hunter. "It doesn't always mean he's going to be successful, but he knows how to grind out a tough at-bat against a good pitcher."
Cabrera was in the lineup despite feeling discomfort in his groin and abdomen while taking a ninth-inning swing Tuesday. The Tigers slugger began Wednesday's game 0-for-3 with an intentional walk before his bases-clearing double, giving him a big-league-leading 123 RBIs.
Austin Jackson rapped three hits and scored two runs and Victor Martinez added two hits, including an RBI double. Drew Smyly (5-0) pitched an inning of scoreless relief, striking out two, to pick up the victory. Jose Veras got the last four outs to record his first save with the Tigers.
All but two of Detroit's runs were unearned, as the Twins were charged with two errors and a passed ball.
A mental mistake was just as costly. After Hunter's double and an intentional walk to Cabrera, Correia was replaced by left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar.
Prince Fielder struck out but reached on a passed ball by Ryan Doumit. When Thielbar failed to cover home plate after Doumit threw to first, Hunter scored from second on the play.
"Our kid just kind of got caught watching the game out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He made a pitch on Fielder, got it up there and made him swing through it and got caught watching after that as we threw it to first base. He's got to get to home plate. That's automatic and he knows that more than anybody."
Martinez followed that with a double to left, knocking in Cabrera.
That erased a strong outing by Correia, who has lost four of his last five decisions.
"I feel bad for him," Gardenhire said. "He pitched great. That was his ballgame all the way. He just couldn't finish out the seventh and unfortunately after that, it got away from us."
NOTES: Leyland said the club has not come close to putting Cabrera, who has battled abdominal, hip and leg injuries in recent weeks, on the disabled list. "I don't think it was ever an issue, ever a consideration, as long as he was fine to play," he said. ... Martinez, the Tigers' designated hitter, may catch one of the games this weekend against the New York Mets. Martinez, who missed last season with a knee injury, hasn't played the position since 2011. Leyland is trying to find ways to get Martinez in the lineup at a National League park. ... Twins RHP Samuel Deduno, who has experienced biceps tendinitis in recent days, threw a bullpen session Wednesday and said he would make his scheduled start against the Cleveland Indians on Friday. ... Minnesota LF Oswaldo Arcia was unavailable for the second straight game because of a sore left wrist. He will take swings in the batting cage Thursday, and a determination will be made afterward whether he needs to go on the disabled list.