DETROIT (AP) — Torii Hunter has done a lot of things and put up some big numbers in his 18-season career. Sacrifice bunts, though, aren't exactly his specialty.
He had three last season, one the year before and none in the 10 seasons before that.
But in the Detroit Tigers' 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, manager Brad Ausmus had Hunter try to get a bunt down in the eighth with no outs, runners on first and second, and Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez coming up.
Detroit was down 3-1 at the time and Hunter couldn't get the bunt down and grounded into a double play on a two-strike pitch. Cabrera followed with a RBI single for the final margin.
"I don't normally want to bunt in front of Miggy (Cabrera), but I wasn't sure Tito (Cleveland manager Terry Francona) would walk him," Ausmus said. "And even if he did, I'm feeling very good with the way Victor and Austin (Jackson) are swinging the bat right now."
The Tigers' right fielder offered no excuses.
"I didn't do my job," Hunter said. "If I get that bunt down, we probably win. Once it got to be 0-2, I was trying to slap something that way, but I hit it right at the bag (first base). I've driven in some runs in my career, and you always want to be swinging the bat in that situation, but this is a job, and I'm the employee. I'm the soldier. If my manager wants to me to bunt, I'm going to bunt. I just didn't get the job done.
"I might bunt once every 10 years, but you have to be able to do it."
Cabrera also drove in Detroit's other run with a first-inning groundout.
The Tigers, who had beaten the Indians 18 of the previous 23 games, had a last chance to tie it in the ninth.
John Axford pitched the ninth for his fifth save for Cleveland and got out of a jam with a runner on third to seal the win. Avila doubled and went to third on center fielder Michael Bourn's error with one out. Axford then struck out pinch-hitter Don Kelly and got Rajai Davis on a groundout to end the game.