Hunter rallies Angels past Royals
In the 12th season of Torii Hunter's productive career, significant milestones are beginning to appear.
The four-time All-Star hit two home runs Monday, including a two-run shot off struggling closer Joakim Soria in the ninth, and powered the Los Angeles Angels past Kansas City 10-8. With the go-ahead drive, the 35-year-old outfielder rang up career RBI No. 1,000.
''I had no idea,'' he said with a big grin. ''They said, `You got 1,000.' I said, 'Damn! I'm old!' But it's an honor. It shows I stayed healthy and I did what I had to do.''
Erasing a five-run deficit for the second time since Friday, the Angels got solo home runs by Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos in the eighth off Louis Coleman to get within one run. Then Bobby Abreu, who was 4 for 5 with two runs scored and two RBIs, singled ahead of Hunter's game-winning, milestone drive.
''That's all we need. We smell blood from there,'' Hunter said.
For Soria (3-3), a two-time All-Star, it was his fifth blown save in 12 opportunities and second in two days and knocked him, at least temporarily, out of a job. Manager Ned Yost, who's been insisting there was nothing wrong with Soria, said after the game that rookie Aaron Crow would probably take over as closer.
Soria, who also blew a save in Sunday's loss at Texas, saw his ERA balloon to 6.55.
''We've gotten to a point where we'll back Jack off,'' Yost said. ''We'll give him a break. He's pitched back-to-back days. Jack is definitely off, but he's not off by a whole lot. I think he's close to getting it back, but just not quite.''
Last year Soria had three blown saves in 46 opportunities.
''It's the right way to do it,'' he said. ''I try to build up, try to work hard and I try to work back on my confidence and try to be the one that I was before.''
The Angels added a run in the ninth on an RBI fielder's choice by Trumbo.
Royals rookie Eric Hosmer homered, doubled and drove in four runs to help the Royals seize a 6-1 lead over Ervin Santana after two innings.
Speaking of milestones, Abreu had two doubles, lifting his career total to 537. The day before, he had passed Lou Gehrig for 32nd on the all-time doubles list.
The Royals took a 3-0 lead on Santana's first six pitches. Alex Gordon homered on his first pitch, then Melky Cabrera took a four-pitch walk before Hosmer slammed Santana's first delivery to him over the wall in right field.
In the second, Santana walked Chris Getz and Gordon and hit Alcides Escobar, loading the bases. Hosmer then lined a two-run double off the wall in right, tying the career high with four RBIs which he'd set three days earlier in Texas. Gordon went to third on the play and made it 6-1 on Jeff Francoeur's sacrifice fly.
Kevin Jepsen (1-2) went 1-1/3 innings for the win. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his second save in five opportunities.
The Royals scored two in the seventh and went ahead 8-5 on Wilson Betemit's RBI triple and Getz's RBI single.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar, winless since May 1, left after five innings with a 6-4 lead, allowing four runs on seven hits. Santana settled down after the second, going six innings and allowing six runs on seven hits.
Hochevar hit Izturis with his first pitch and fell behind 1-0 on Abreu's RBI single before the Royals jumped on Santana for three in the first and three in the second.
Besides his milestone RBI, Hunter probably made three new friends. The three youngsters who caught his milestone homer were brought to meet the Angels star and exchange their souvenir.
''They were triplets, about 7, 8 or 9, something like that,'' said Hunter, who had a solo home run in the seventh. ''I took pictures with them, gave them hugs, and said, `Thank you. It's a special thing for me.' I don't know if my autograph will mean anything, but that ball meant a lot to me and I appreciate them coming down and giving it to me.''
NOTES: It was the Royals' fifth leadoff home run against the Angels. ... When he walked Gordon in the second inning and loaded the bases, Santana had thrown 42 pitches and recorded three outs. ... Last Memorial Day, the same teams and pitchers faced off, with Santana beating Hochevar 7-1. ... This was the first of a season-long 11-game home stand for KC. ... Just ahead of Abreu on the all-time doubles list is Todd Helton with 538.