10/08/2002 10:18 pm ET
Hunter willing and able to sacrifice
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter, the Twins' All-Star outfielder and undisputed offensive catalyst, went out of his way to confirm that postseason ball is a different breed.
You lead your team with 29 homers and 94 RBIs, you bat in the No. 5 meat-packing hole, you finally bring an AL Championship Series into the Homerdome.
So what do you do if you come up following a fourth-inning leadoff single in a 1-1 tie?
Well, if you're Hunter and it's Tuesday's Game 1 of the ALCS against the Anaheim Angels, you ... lay down your first sacrifice bunt of the season.
Not the postseason, the entire season, the one that began on March 29.
Hunter did a nifty job, too, on a low pitch by Angels starter Kevin Appier, deadening the ball in front of the plate and forcing catcher Bengie Molina to throw him out at first as David Ortiz, who had struck that leadoff single, moved to second.
Alas, Hunter's sacrifice -- literal as well as statistical -- did not pay off for the Twins. Appier, who spent five full innings balancing on a tightrope, escaped that jam, too, by retiring Michael Cuddyer on a hard liner to right and A.J. Pierzynski on a popup to third.
However, the play vouched for Minnesota's penchant for manufacturing runs and pumped up the Twins, who broke Appier the next inning, taking a 2-1 lead on Corey Koskie's RBI double.
That fourth-inning bunt was only Hunter's third sacrifice bunt in 543 Major League games, including the current playoffs. He previously had one sacrifice each in 1999 and 2001.
Tom Singer is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.