Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Boston — Now about that edge it appears you have, Red Sox ...
What an art form it is to transfer pressure, a talent only a few players have the stature to pull off.
Or the courage to try.
The best at it on the Tigers is Torii Hunter, who claims there’s more pressure on Boston after five games of the American League Championship Series than there is on the Tigers — despite a 3-2 Red Sox lead in games.
If Hunter believes what he says — and based on his extensive track record of talk, there’s no reason to think he doesn’t — the Sox are in a worse position than having their backs to the proverbial wall.
If Hunter is right, it’ll be the Tigers, not the Red Sox, who’ll go about their business as normal Saturday.
It’ll be the Tigers, not the Red Sox, who’ll feel loose for Game 6 at Fenway Park.
It’ll be the Tigers with the advantage in the last two games because they’ll be starting Max Scherzer, followed by Justin Verlander — instead of the solid but less spectacular starters of the Red Sox.
But first things first, right, Torii?
And atop that list is the need to believe in yourself so completely that all tasks can be overcome.
Hunter isn’t just a tough player. He’s a wise one. In those moments he’s not smiling, talking or simply being friendly to whoever’s nearby, you’ll catch a pensive look in his face.
He’s no fool. He knows how to make the best of any situation.
If the hill ahead is high, he says it’s climbable.
If the hill is actually a mountain, it appears the pressure to get to the top first is on the climber leading the way.
In this case, the lead climber is the team that’s just a victory away from winning the ALCS — the Red Sox.
Making the challenge seem possible, though, that’s always the first step in getting it done. It’s also the first step in getting past the past that can drag a team down.
While other questions dealt with issues about Game 5, and how the Tigers lost it, Hunter on Thursday night already was looking ahead.
Some of that was because he’d been asked by the media around him to do so — and to describe what he sees. Hunter is well-known for usable answers, after all.
But he doesn’t just talk to talk — or to give reporters what they’re seeking. Hunter answers questions as honestly as he can, and if he senses there’s more pressure elsewhere, then he’ll darn well say so.
But here’s why.
Hunter sees the advantage the Tigers have in being able to go with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander as their starting pitchers in the last two games.
“If I had to go into some back alley,” Hunter said, “I’d take those guys with me.”
It’s because of Scherzer and Verlander that Hunter said, “I definitely feel the pressure is on those guys (the Red Sox), and not on us.”
Hunter also believes in reversing vibes as quickly as he can. The Tigers clubhouse after Game 5 was about the dissection of a loss — which was only natural when there were so many obvious questions following a one-run defeat.
Hunter didn’t want his team to be smothered by negativity, though — or by overanalysis.
“We should have positive energy,” he said, “not negative. You fight through it.
“If you had a tiger, and he was backed in a corner, he couldn’t go left, he couldn’t go right. — so what’s he going to do?
“He’s going to fight through it. That’s what we’re going to try to do. We can’t go left, we can’t go right. We’re going to go right through it.”
And the only way to do that is by immediately embracing the challenge.
“I like being down 3-2,” Hunter said. “It feels good.”
Feels good? The wall your back is against feels good?
That’s embracing the challenge, wouldn’t you say?