05/14/2013 1:59 AM ET
Hunter surprised by sacrifice bunt call
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Torii Hunter likes to believe he should be ready for anything as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, especially batting in front of Miguel Cabrera.
Still, he couldn't lie. He was caught off-guard when the call came down for a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning of a tie game on Sunday.
"No, I wasn't expecting it at all. I hadn't sacrifice bunted in, it might've been about 10 years," said Hunter, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in Monday's 7-2 win over Houston.
Actually, it wasn't that long. He actually laid down a successful sacrifice bunt last year for the Angels, moving Mike Trout from second to third base after a leadoff double in the opening inning August 2. He also bunted a runner over in an April 4 game in Minnesota, but it was ruled that Hunter was trying for a hit.
His sacrifice last year was his first since 2001. Even so, it's something he said he believes he should have been able to do Sunday, even against sidearming right-hander Joe Smith after Andy Dirks' single.
With a chance to move the Dirks into scoring position for Cabrera, Leyland said he had no qualms about putting the sign on.
"I did not give any thought to swinging away," Leyland said. "He just didn't get it down, and that happens."
After a first-pitch ball, Hunter tried bunting back-to-back sinkers, fouling off both of them. He stayed alive in the count before grounding into a double play.
"It was tough, but I've got to do my job," Hunter said. "I've got to get that guy over. Anything can happen if you get him over and put him in scoring position. I didn't do my job."
Leyland excited for Red Wings coach Babcock
DETROIT -- Among the many folks in Michigan staying up late Sunday night to watch the Red Wings in their first round Stanley Cup Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks was Tigers manager Jim Leyland. He wasn't disappointed.
Leyland has talked several times with Wings coach Mike Babcock, and has invited him to Comerica Park whenever his season ends. Leyland said he was fascinated watching the strategy as the game unfolded.
"I really enjoyed it," Leyland said. "Like I've said, I don't know anything about hockey, but I thought it was really interesting. To be honest with you, I wasn't really sure they had timeouts in hockey, other than TV timeouts. They had that timeout at the end of the game, which I thought was interesting. It almost reminded me of a basketball game when the coach says, 'OK, this is what they're probably going to try to do. This is what we're going to do.'
"I don't know how you can do that with the puck flying around, how you can have a play for sure. But plays seem to be broken up, and the puck seems to be going around every place. They must have them, but it was interesting, because Babock was prepared for his timeout, whatever it was. He had something for them."
Leyland said he has seen what their coaches do for pregame preparation, and while he doesn't understand it all, he was impressed by it. He hopes Babcock has a chance to do the same.
"He'll be over here, hopefully not too soon," Leyland said. "He's a great guy."
Leyland: Raburn reception 'not a big deal'
DETROIT -- As someone who remembers being booed when he first returned to Pittsburgh as a manager, Jim Leyland knows what it's like to be booed at an old stop. He thought Ryan Raburn's reception on Sunday as a member of the Indians was rather balanced compared to expectations.
"I didn't really think it was brutal or anything," Leyland said. "It really wasn't a big deal either way. Some people might have soured on him, obviously, but at the same time, I think for a lot of people, if you were a Tiger, you're a Tiger. They're pretty good about stuff like that, I think. They remember.
"Some people remember the good things, too, and they're pretty good about that here."
For most fans, Leyland believes, returns aren't a big deal. It can be a different situation if it's a high-profile player returning to a place after leaving as a free agent.
• Members of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America presented former Tigers pitcher Steve Sparks with the Tiger of the Year Award -- from 2001. Sparks, who led that team with 14 wins and eight complete games, didn't receive a trophy at the time because the chapter didn't have one. When Detroit writers saw Sparks, now an Astros broadcaster, in Spring Training, they wanted to give him the trophy he deserved.
• Miguel Cabrera's 11-game hitting streak ended Monday with an 0-for-4 performance against the Astros. He was 19-for-47 over the stretch, nearly matching his season-high 12-game hitting streak from April 14-28. Hunter now has the longest active hitting streak on the team at four.