Hunter scores winning run as Tigers top Twins
DETROIT -- It was a chance all teams take, and so did Torii Hunter.
Tie score, bottom of the ninth inning, one out, runners on first and third, fly ball to a drawn in center fielder.
Hunter dashed in from third to score on left fielder J.D. Martinez's shallow fly ball to center Sunday and give the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The throw from Twins center field Sam Fuld was up the line toward third and Hunter scored standing up. Minnesota appealed Hunter left too early but it was ruled otherwise.
"It was, 'Feet, don't fail me now,'" Hunter said. "I'm going to test him. He's got to make a great throw to home plate."
"That was a no-brainer," manager Brad Ausmus said. "My concern was that Torii didn't leave early, trying to get the jump. He didn't."
"Everybody in the dugout was yelling, 'Appeal, appeal,' manager Ron Gardenhire of Minnesota said. "But that's normal. Everybody does in that situation."
Hunter opened the ninth with a single off right-hander Casey Fien (3-3) and raced to third when Minnesota right fielder Oswaldo Arcia dropped designated hitter Victor Martinez's towering fly against the fence in right for a one-out error.
"As soon as I hit it, I thought it was gone," Victor Martinez said. "But that wind was stronger than me.
"The good thing was we were able to get the run in from third."
J.D. Martinez did that when he hit a 2-1 pitch for the game-winning sacrifice fly.
"I was just trying to get a ball up that I could handle," J.D. Martinez said. "He was trying to get me to hit into a double play. At first, no, I didn't think it was far enough.
"But I saw (Fuld) take two steps back and then come in. I could see the ball drifting up the line. That's a tough throw for a center fielder to make because you've got the mound to worry about."
Struggling right-hander Joe Nathan (3-2) got the victory for a scoreless ninth, although he did give up a pair of singles. He allowed 12 earned runs in his previous nine games.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos ripped a one-out RBI double off the wall in left to tie the score, 3-3, in the bottom of the sixth. Victor Martinez walked and J.D. Martinez singled to left off Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
"We had chances, they had chances," Gardenhire said. "We missed a play (in right). And when you miss a play, you get beat."
Held to one hit over five innings by right-hander Rick Porcello, the Twins banged out four and got three runs to take a 3-2 lead in the sixth.
Doubles by first baseman Joe Mauer and left fielder Josh Willingham produced one run and designated hitter Kendry Morales' ground single to right tied the score. A walk and catcher Kurt Suzuki's single to left gave Minnesota the lead.
"We had the lead back," Gardenhire said. "Then we went right back out and they get a couple of baserunners and tie the score."
A triple by center fielder Austin Jackson plus a sacrifice fly to right by Castellanos gave Detroit a 2-0 lead in the second. Arcia lost Victor Martinez's fly ball in the sun in the first and it fell for an RBI double, scoring second baseman Ian Kinsler who had doubled leading off.
NOTES: Minnesota placed 3B Trevor Plouffe on the disabled list Sunday with inflammation in the area of his ninth left-side rib, replacing him by recalled SS Pedro Florimon from Triple-A Rochester. Plouffe also has the flu and returned to Minneapolis. ... Detroit purchased the contract of LHP Blaine Hardy from Triple-A Toledo on Sunday, optioning RHP Corey Knebel back to the Mud Hens. Hardy started six games and relieved in 14 for Toledo, going 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA. He will pitch out of the bullpen for the Tigers. ... Twins INF Eduardo Nunez (hamstring strain) is likely to miss at least Sunday's game after having to come out of Saturday's game. ... SS Eugenio Suarez became the first Detroit rookie to have a double, triple and home run in the same game Saturday since C Bill Freehan in 1963.