On slides and sliders
Torii Hunter was a longtime Tiger killer during his years as a Minnesota Twin, so the fact that he set up a Tigers loss Friday shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Credit him with the slide that toppled Omar Infante at second base and broke up what would’ve been an inning-ending double play, extending the sixth inning for Howard Kendrick’s go-ahead two-run double.
“Break it up,” Hunter said when asked after the game. “Break it up and give ourselves a chance. I got a nice little secondary [lead] so Ican get out there a little earlier and I hustled and just tried to touch him and alter his throw and I was able to do that. That’s all you want to do is play the game that way.”
That doesn’t mean Infante wasn’t beating himself up a little bit.
“Yeah, when I get the ball, I see Torii Hunter,” Infante said. “I know he’s coming to me to break up the double play. It’s a tough play, because I catch the ball and see him and throw the ball to first base. But I have a chance. If my throw’s good, I make the out.”
Infante said he watched the replay afterwards to check out the timing. He seemed to think he could’ve gotten off a better throw.
“When I see the replay, I see after I throw, he [made contact with] me,” Infante said.
Infante seemed to believe coming across the bag on that play, rather than staying back and taking the throw, would’ve put him in a better position to avoid the slide.
“I think I have to go to the ball and not wait for the throw from third base,” he said. “I have to go to the ball. When I wait, I stay back. That’s why when I stay back, it’s hard for me to throw. Sometimes I have to alter my body.”
Of course, the break-up slide extended the inning for Howard Kendrick. However, it was a hanging slider on an 0-2 count from Rick Porcello that Kendrick hit into the left-center field gap to score two runs.
Porcello, like Infante, took responsibility. He had gotten through the middle of the Angels batting order last time through by starting them off with breaking pitches and setting up his sinker, and it worked so well he struck out the Angels in order in the fourth. Next time through, in the sixth, he and catcher Alex Avila tried the opposite.
With a better-executed slider, it probably would’ve worked.
“Sixth, seventh inning, you have to have your best stuff,” Porcello said. “That’s when you have to find something within yourself to execute those pitches. Obviously, my past two outings, late in the game like that we’ve been getting hurt. When I get in that situation again, I have to dig down deep and make a better pitch.”