Hunter, needing a triple for a cycle, comes up one base short

BY foxsports • July 31, 2013

DETROIT — There was only one thing standing in the way of Torii Hunter's first career cycle in the majors — catcher Alex Avila.

In the seventh inning of the Tigers' 11-1 victory over the Nationals on Wednesday, Hunter needed just a triple to become the first Tigers player since Carlos Guillen in 2006 to complete the feat.

Hunter hit the ball down the right-field line and went for it at full speed. He blazed past first, then rounded second just as quickly.

That's when he saw Avila — who had singled two batters before — slowing down in front of him when third-base coach Tom Brookens put on the stop sign.

"I told the guys in the dugout, 'If I hit a ball in the outfield, I'm running, no matter what,'" Hunter said. "I took off running, I saw Avila slowing down at third and I was like, 'Forget it, I'm going to keep going.'

"I kept running and then unselfish me just stopped and tried to go back. I should have just kept running and told Avila to take it on the chin."

Had Avila known Hunter needed only a triple for the cycle, he would have done just that with the Tigers holding a huge lead.

"I would have definitely gotten thrown out, but I wouldn't have cared at that point," said Avila, who also homered earlier in the game. "I felt really bad coming back in the dugout.'"

Hunter, who was tagged out before he got back to second, said that he did get a cycle in the minors.

"(But) never had one in the big leagues," Hunter said. "I'll go 4-for-4 and have one to go, and you hit another double. It just doesn't ever work out."

Avila, who's dealing with some soreness in his hip and isn't a speedster to begin with, originally thought he might have a chance to make it home.

"I thought maybe I had a good enough jump to where I could score,"  Avila said.  "As soon as I saw Brookie put the stop sign up, as fast as I was going, it's not very hard to stop."

Although Hunter and Avila were disappointed the cycle didn't happen, manager Jim Leyland wasn't.

"Brookie made the exact right call," Leyland said. "You can’t send Alex in that situation. Those kind of things, if they happen, fine. If they don’t, it’s just a part of the game."

Hunter was able to laugh about the situation, especially when asked who would have been out if both he and Avila ended up on third.

"I would have pushed Avila off the bag and I would have stayed on, pushed him off — 'Tag him!'" Hunter said, laughing. "He didn't know either. Brookie didn't know. What can you do?

"Hopefully, I get another chance before I retire."