Angels right fielder Torii Hunter (center) is swarmed by teammates after… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
Gross bi-monthly income for Angels right fielder Torii Hunter: $1.5 million. Look on a rookie's face when Hunter lets one open his paycheck: priceless.
Like Kirby Puckett did when Hunter was a kid in the Minnesota Twins system, Hunter uses his paystub as a tool "to push" young teammates.
His subject Friday afternoon was Tyler Chatwood, the 21-year-old right-hander whose jaw dropped when he opened Hunter's check and saw all those zeros.
"He'll be throwing 97 mph tonight," Hunter said, "and you'll know why."
Chatwood didn't quite hit 97 mph, but his fastball was certainly up to speed, hitting 94 mph regularly in a strong performance in which he allowed one run and two hits and struck out five in eight innings against the Cleveland Indians.
And Hunter showed Chatwood and everyone else at Angel Stadium why he makes the big bucks, lining a bases-loaded single into the left field corner in the 11th inning to give the Angels a 2-1 walk-off win over Cleveland.
"Wow," Chatwood said about Hunter's paycheck. "He does it as a motivational thing. Stick with it, keep working hard, and you'll have things to look forward to."
Chatwood is making the major league minimum of $414,000, but he put up plenty of zeros in his sixth major league start against the team with the best record in the American League.
As he did in his first five starts, when he walked 17 batters in 271/3 innings, Chatwood struggled with his command Friday, walking five -- one intentionally -- and hitting a batter. But only two Indians reached second base against Chatwood, who pitched aggressively and seemed to gain confidence as the game went on.
"He committed to his pitches really well," said Mike Scioscia, who won his 999th game as Angels manager. "He threw some curves to put hitters away and some when he was behind in counts. He moved the ball in and out, and he was firm, with a good two-seam fastball. He can do a lot to keep hitters off balance."
Chatwood was backed by two outstanding defensive plays by shortstop Erick Aybar and a superb over-the-shoulder, leaping catch of Shin-Soo Choo's eighth-inning drive by 5-foot-7 left fielder Alexi Amarista, who normally plays second base.
"He's like Spud Webb out there," Hunter said of Amarista. "He jumped high. I think he can dunk. That kid's a gamer."
Aybar sparked the winning rally with his third hit, a soft single to left off reliever Justin Germano to open the 11th. Bobby Abreu singled to center to advance Aybar.
With the Indians pinching on the corners in anticipation of a bunt, Scioscia had Maicer Izturis swing away, and Izturis singled sharply to right to load the bases with no outs.
Hunter swung and missed so violently at Germano's first pitch, a slow curve, "that I almost blew my back out," he said. He didn't miss Germano's next curve, whistling it into the corner for the game-winning hit.
The Indians scored in the fourth, but the Angels tied it in the sixth when Abreu singled then scored on Izturis' double to right-center.