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Torii Hunter swings a big bat in Angels' 13-1 win over Orioles

Right fielder has three hits, including his 10th home run, and scores four runs. Mike Trout has four hits and makes an outstanding catch to back up Jered Weaver, who improves to 8-1.

June 27, 2012|By Kevin Baxter

BALTIMORE -- It wasn't all that long ago that Torii Hunter was the Angels outfielder opponents feared most.

Then along came Mark Trumbo, who leads the team in home runs and runs batted in the last two seasons. And Mike Trout, who leads the American League in hitting and stolen bases this season.

Yet, if Hunter is bitter about being pushed out of the spotlight, he's hiding it well. And lately he also has been performing well, as he did Wednesday when he had three hits, including his 10th home run, scored four times, stole a base and drove in two runs to lead the Angels to a 13-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"I had my fun. It's about those guys. It's not about me," said Hunter, who is playing the role of mentor in the clubhouse and masher on the field since moving to the No. 2 spot in the batting order behind Trout and in front of Albert Pujols.

"All I care about is winning. I need a ring to go with that resume. These guys are up and coming. They're the newest thing. And a new thing is always a great thing."

Hunter, who matched a career high for runs and a season high for hits in a game, has been on a tear for a while, and so have the Angels. He is hitting .375 since being elevated in the batting order 17 games ago. And not coincidentally, the team has won 13 of those games, scoring a season-high 13 runs Wednesday the day after pounding out a season-high 17 hits.

"There's no doubt that Torii really has warmed into hitting in that spot," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a great spot to hit in behind Mike and in front of Albert. He's taking walks. He's hitting behind runners."

He was also hitting the ball over the fence Wednesday, driving a 2-and-2 pitch into the left-field stands in his first at-bat to put the Angels ahead to stay. He walked and scored in the third inning, singled in a run and scored in a six-run fourth and singled and scored in the fifth.

The rest of the game belonged to Trout and right-hander Jered Weaver.

Trout made perhaps his most spectacular play in a season of spectacular plays in the first inning, going well above the center-field wall to take a home run away from J.J. Hardy. And he scored three runs and matched a career high with four hits, including a run-scoring single in the fourth when he nubbed a pitch 20 feet in front of the plate and made it to first base without a throw.

Weaver ran his record to 8-1 and lowered his earned-run average to 2.31 by giving up a run and six hits in 62/3 innings. Afterward, however, the Angels' clubhouse was buzzing about Trout's catch.

"Pretty impressive," said Hunter, 36, who made dozens of similar catches while winning nine Gold Gloves in center field. "His frigging hip was on top of the wall. Tears almost came to my eyes."

Added Scioscia: "Reminded me of a young Torii Hunter."

Then, after a pause and a look at the boxscore, he corrected himself, removing any reference to the rejuvenated Hunter's age.

"Reminded me," he said "of Torii Hunter."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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