Torii Hunter turned 35 on Sunday. He only wishes he felt his age.
"The last seven days," the Angels center fielder said, "I felt like I was 50."
There was an All-Star game to host and precious little time to relax before a four-game series that the Angels concluded with a 2-1 loss in 10 innings to the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium.
Hunter hit a bumpy patch in what has been a season of smooth swings. He was two for 17 without an extra-base hit in the series, lining into a double play to end a sixth inning Sunday in which the Angels failed to score after Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff triple.
"It's a rough week, man, but I got through it," Hunter said.
So did the last-place Mariners, who averted a four-game sweep when Jose Lopez stroked a two-out single in the 10th against Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen, scoring Franklin Gutierrez from second base.
The Angels nearly extended their mastery of the Mariners in the bottom of the inning. Mike Napoli, whose team-leading 16th homer had given the Angels a 1-0 lead in the second inning, led off with a single deep in the hole to second baseman Chone Figgins and took second on Kevin Frandsen's sacrifice.
But after Seattle closer David Aardsma walked pinch-hitter Paul McAnulty, he struck out Erick Aybar and Kendrick to end the game.
For the Angels, it was another futile offensive effort in a game started by Ervin Santana. The right-hander did not receive a decision after giving up only one run in seven innings.
He is 0-2 in his last three starts despite pitching at least seven innings in each game and compiling a 2.31 earned-run average, largely because his teammates have averaged one run of support in those outings.
"Ervin's been as consistent as anyone in our league," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, "and we just didn't get him the support this afternoon."
Now comes a stretch for the Angels in which they might feel as if they've either come of age or moved past their prime. Beginning Tuesday in New York, the Angels will play their next 12 games against the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers — teams either leading their division or within striking distance in the wild-card race.
Seven of the games will be against the Rangers, whom the Angels trail by 4½ games in the American League West.
Hunter, who aspires to be a general manager after his playing career ends, sounded like Scioscia when asked about the schedule.
"This stretch is very important," Hunter said, "but for me, Tuesday [against the Yankees] is more important than anything. We have to take it one game at a time."
Before that, Hunter said he would try to unwind after a trying week. His friends and family visiting for the All-Star game departed Saturday, two days earlier than scheduled, so that Hunter could experience the kind of respite his teammates enjoyed during the break.
"Guys kind of relaxed, didn't watch baseball — they didn't know what I did in the All-Star game — so these guys really got some rest and I think their energy is back," Hunter said. "And they look good, everybody except me."
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