CHICAGO | As if life wasn’t bad enough for the White Sox with a 14-36 record against the Detroit Tigers since Aug. 14, 2010, they’re now attacked by Motown’s Godzillas rather than mere ferocious beasts.
Showing no mercy, the Tigers have replaced a pair of very good Sox killers in Delmon Young, who had more RBIs against Chicago than Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and part-timer Ryan Raburn.
Taking their spot are all-time Chicago destructors in Torii Hunter, an old tormentor from his Minnesota Twins days, and Victor Martinez, who seemingly never played a series in U.S. Cellular Field without an extra-base clutch hit.
Making matters even worse is the Sox are first playing the Tigers this season while right fielder Hunter and DH Martinez are among baseball’s hottest hitters. Martinez came into Wednesday’s game batting .416 in July, while Hunter hit .351 so far this month.
Hunter had 29 homers and 94 RBIs against the Sox in 615 lifetime at-bats, including a solo blast off John Danks in the fifth Wednesday. Martinez batted .327 with 19 homers and 83 RBIs in 474 career at-bats coming into the game.
Noted outfield-fence home run-robber Hunter is still inventing ways to beat the Sox. On Tuesday, he was called safe in a rundown via an obstruction play by first baseman Adam Dunn.
“I don’t think I psych ‘em out,” Hunter said. “I’ve always loved playing here in this stadium. I have a lot of family here. I’m just comfortable. They come here and support me, so I want kind of show off for my family. I think I turn it up a notch. I try to fight everybody the same way. But the White Sox, I turn it up a notch.”
Martinez was his usual efficient self on Monday with a key two-run single off Chris Sale.
“I think every player has places they love to play,” he said. “I always like to come here and play. It’s a great atmosphere. It gets you going out there to compete.”
Gary native and Chesterton resident Lloyd McClendon, the Tigers’ hitting coach, seconds the notion that a mentally-comfy ballpark equals production and “killer” status.
“I certainly think it’s a comfort zone,” he said. “Pitchers come and go. An atmosphere, a background, feeling comfortable in a ballpark goes a long way. I loved hitting in Wrigley Field. But in San Francisco, I couldn’t find a hit. It’s just the way it is. Feeling comfortable in a ballpark and liking the surroundings goes a long way.”
Calling an affable, usually smiling guy like Hunter a “killer” seems a stretch -- or is it?
“Would you rather be ‘Torii the Easy Out?’ Hunter said. “No, any team against you play against, you want to be some kind of killer. That’s what everybody’s dream is.”