DETROIT — The sight of bullpen police officer Steve Horgan reaching for the sky in celebration and Torii Hunter flipping over the fence in futility chasing down David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam is easily the most memorable image of the Red Sox’ ALCS Game 2 walkoff win over the Tigers Sunday.
The shot landed everywhere, from social media to “SportsCenter,” and Horgan ended up taking another photo with Sox owner John Henry.
Even Hunter himself was able to laugh about it when he spoke to reporters at Comerica Park Monday, poking fun at the situation as well as Horgan.
“It shows a good effort,” Hunter said. “You can make it whatever you want. You can say, ‘Aw, look at the Tigers, face down, feet up.’
“The cop’s supposed to be protect and serve — this son of a gun got his hands up. I better not ever see him again. Help me, then cheer, fool.”
Hunter was sore, he said, and intended to spend the off day getting treatment, but he expects to play in Game 3 Tuesday.
As comical as Horgan’s enthusiasm might have been, Hunter was appreciative of the pitchers in the Red Sox bullpen who were immediately concerned, waving for trainers to come tend to the 17-year veteran.
“That says a lot,” Hunter said. “All those guys came over to check on me in the bullpen. I wanted to say thank you for that. I saw [Ryan] Dempster and everything and he was trying to wake me up. I think somebody smacked me, trying to wake me up, and just held me down so I wouldn’t move.
“I didn’t know if anything was broken or whatever. You can hear Ryan Dempster and a couple of the other guys say, ‘Dude, that was a great effort. Are you all right?’ So I thank the Red Sox bullpen for coming over to check on me, that was a great moment.
“They put that aside and tried to take care of human life — unlike the cop,” Hunter joked. “Terrible. Protect and serve, take that off his badge.”
Other Tigers notes:
• Andy Dirks will get the start in left field Tuesday, and Jhonny Peralta will play short. Dirks hit .353 (6 for 17) against the Sox this season with a homer, a triple, and two RBIs. The triple was off Game 3 starter John Lackey, against whom Dirks went 2 for 5 in two games this season.
• Even though Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter are a combined 2 for 20 at the top of the lineup, manager Jim Leyland says he has no intention of tinkering with things.
“Obviously, they’ve been struggling,” Leyland said. “I don’t know where you go at this point in time, this time of year. You play somebody else, I don’t think that’s the answer. How to adjust or tinker with your lineup, I don’t really know who I would lead off in that case or who I would hit second.
“Those guys have been good all year for us and I think we just have to continue to go that way and hope they come out of it. I think they’re both trying a little too hard.”
• Looking back at the grand slam Joaquin Benoit gave up to Oritz, Leyland took the blame for not telling his closer to be especially careful.
“I should have reminded him that we didn’t want Ortiz to beat us,” Leyland said. “He tried to make a great pitch. He tried to get it low and away out of the strike zone, but he didn’t get it there. We were going to try to get him to swing at a ball if we could. I should have reminded him about that and I did not.”
The first-year closer saved 24 games for the Tigers in the regular season and three in the postseason, but after converting his first 22 save opportunities, he has blown three saves in his past nine appearances going back to Sept. 23 against the Twins.
Leyland acknowledged putting him in some tight spots. Including the playoffs, Benoit has entered the game with men on base 14 times. Sunday’s Ortiz at-bat was the first time he came in with the bases loaded.
“In reality, I’ve been asking a lot out of him, probably a little too much in a couple situations,” Leyland said.