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Hunter near perfect against Indians

Outfielder reaches base safely in nine straight at-bats
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- When Torii Hunter stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of Saturday's 7-4 victory in Cleveland, he had reached base safely in eight consecutive trips to the plate, dating back to the first inning Friday night.

He worked the count to 2-2 before hitting a sharp ground ball to the shortstop. It was well-struck, but a routine play nonetheless. Surely, the streak was going to be end.

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CLEVELAND -- When Torii Hunter stepped to the plate in the sixth inning of Saturday's 7-4 victory in Cleveland, he had reached base safely in eight consecutive trips to the plate, dating back to the first inning Friday night.

He worked the count to 2-2 before hitting a sharp ground ball to the shortstop. It was well-struck, but a routine play nonetheless. Surely, the streak was going to be end.

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Until the ball rolled through the legs of Cleveland shortstop Jose Ramirez. It was at that point, that it became easy to wonder if anyone would ever get Hunter out again.

In the span of two games, Hunter had raised his season batting average from .252 to .295. His OPS had shot up from .679 to .824. He had driven in a pair of runs and scored five times, helping lead his team to consecutive victories against Cleveland.

The streak finally did come to a close in the eighth inning, when third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was able to cleanly field a ground ball and retire Hunter at first.

"It was a good run," Hunter said. "I had a good swing going, had good at-bats. You're only perfect for so long. You just try to keep the same thing going, keep the same rhythm, same swing, and I tried to do that as much as I could. Unfortunately they got me, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted."

But Hunter doesn't care about the streak. Individual streaks and stats are fun, Hunter admitted, but what he cares about are wins. And that's what the streak produced for Minnesota.

And the way the streak ended was fitting, given the type of player Hunter is.

It wasn't just a run-of-the-mill groundout. No, the hit-and-run was on. Cleveland had just struck back for three runs in the inning prior, closing Minnesota's lead to 7-4. The leadoff man in the eighth, Brian Dozier, had drawn a walk.

With Dozier in motion, Hunter swung at a pitch out of the zone, sacrificing the streak for the good of the team.

"Unselfishly, he was on board," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I wanted to make the guy throw a strike because he had walked Dozier, but we got to a count where we put the runner in motion and he did his job. It wasn't a strike, but he was able to get it on the ground and put Dozier into scoring position. He did his job."

August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Torii Hunter