DETROIT--Don't blame the Zubaz.
Torii Hunter wanted to prove they weren't the cause of the extended slump the Tigers had been shuffling through for the last three weeks. So he wore Zubaz, even though no one else on the team would.
After the Tigers picked up their first win in nearly a week and their fourth of the last 10 games, Joba Chamberlain credited Hunter for being the one to break the mold of superstition. "I want everyone to know that there's nothing wrong with Zubaz, and Torii proved that tonight," Chamberlain said. "He had on the full suit, and look at what he did out there. People out there shouldn't be blaming the Zubaz. It was never the Zubaz." (h/t Dave Hogg, FOX Sports Detroit)
Hunter had another reason to get his bat going however, he had a promise to keep to his son. Saturday is Torii Hunter Jr.'s birthday, so naturally a fitting present was needed. "Tomorrow is his (Torii Jr.) birthday, and I told him that I'd hit a homer for him," Hunter said. "I hit it tonight, so he has to take that one as his present. We'll celebrate tomorrow though -- I'll take him to McDonalds and do it big for him."
Chamberlain is the resident goof on the team, being the one who came up with the idea of the Zubaz in the first place. But it wasn't about just wearing silly outfits or comfy outdated clothes. "The Zubaz was just a way to have some fun. This is a long, long season, and you spend a lot of time together," Chamberlain said.
"You have to find some ways to relax and get through everything, and that was just something that lightened the mood. No one wore it after the flight to Cleveland, and I told Torii to make sure not to fall asleep in it today, but it made guys laugh. That's all this is about."
The Tigers' winning streak had ended in Boston. They had lost five consecutive games before the Red Sox showed up Friday night, and hadn't put more than three runs per game in six of the last 10 games played. The Tigers had been shut out once by the Seattle Mariners and swept by both the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays.
And yet, despite the difficult events of the last three weeks, the team has maintained a positive attitude, becoming a more tightly-knit group in the process. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after Thursday's sweeping loss by the Blue Jays, the pressure can mount and players begin to take the game too seriously and that mentality needed to be held in check.
So for his part, Hunter was having no more of the current trend. "Yeah, I wore the Zubaz again. No one had worn it since that long night, but you can't start thinking that you are losing because of Zubaz," Hunter said. "I tried to get some of the other guys to wear it with me, but they weren't having any part of it. I wore it, though, and look what happened."
It's something that the team was in sore need of. Prior to Friday's game the Tigers dugout had a more loose appearance, and the overall mood on the field was one of a more relaxed, at-ease team that hadn't just gone through 13 losses in 19 games since sweeping the Red Sox.
As is typical, Miguel Cabrera was wreaking havoc on the bases during the game as he did his best to distract Rubby De La Rosa while at second base in the fifth inning. But it was the way the Tigers carried themselves throughout Friday's game that made the difference.
Facing the team once again that the Tigers had swept in Boston's own back yard generally carries its own momentum. Either way, for one night at least, something clicked for the Tigers and they're betting that momentum will transfer into the next game. And the next.