07/14/10 1:45 AM ET
Hunter, Weaver at home despite AL loss
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
With runners at the corners and the American League down by two runs with two outs in the seventh inning, Hunter stepped up to the plate to face Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.
A homer would have given the AL the lead, and an extra-base hit would have likely tied the game. So Hunter, playing in front of the Angel Stadium crowd, admittedly swung for the fences to try to be the game's hometown hero and likely MVP.
But it didn't exactly work out they way he envisioned it, as he never got the fastball he was looking for, instead striking out swinging on a nasty 91-mph cutter from Wainwright to end the inning and the threat.
"I was swinging so hard it was unbelievable," Hunter said. "I was a little jumpy. In that situation, you want to calm yourself down, but I was too anxious. I was trying to go deep and Wainwright is a pretty nasty pitcher and that's why he's one of the best in the game."
It marked an 0-for-2 day at the plate for Hunter, who also flied out to deep right field in his first at-bat, in the fifth inning against Padres right-hander Heath Bell. But Hunter still had fun representing the Angels along with teammate Jered Weaver, who both received loud ovations from the sellout crowd.
"It was awesome," Hunter said. "The Angels fans were into it. They were loud and packed the house today. Every time we had a clutch situation they were up on their feet up there screaming, so it was pretty impressive."
It was certainly an exciting experience for Hunter despite the AL's 3-1 loss to the NL, which marked the AL's first defeat in the Midsummer Classic since 1996. But as Hunter noted, he was a bit worn out from all of the activities and events that came with being a part of the host club.
"It was more than I expected," said Hunter, a four-time All-Star. "I had no idea it was going to be like this. It wore me out. It was fun, but at the same time, out on the field I had no legs and I was shaking because I had so much Red Bull, Pepsi and coffee. But it was fun."
And it was also fun for Weaver, even though he was unable to pitch because of a new rule that doesn't allow starters who pitched on Sunday to play in the game.
The Simi Valley, Calif., native was excited because he had a chance to represent his club in his home stadium for his first All-Star Game selection.
"To make an All-Star team is exciting enough, but to have your first one be in your hometown is pretty cool," Weaver said. "These fans have supported me the last five years, so to be able to tip my cap to show my appreciation is great."
Despite going 8-5 with a 3.20 ERA and a Major League-leading 137 strikeouts in 121 innings pitched, Weaver had to sweat out his selection, as he wasn't named to the team until Sunday, as a replacement for CC Sabathia, who also started Sunday. But once Weaver found out, he was ecstatic.
"It's an honor," Weaver said. "It's been bittersweet the last few weeks not knowing whether it would happen, but when I finally got word on Sunday that I made the team I was pretty excited. Some people play their whole career without making an All-Star team. It's something I dreamed about since I was a little kid, so to have it come full-circle and be here with the talent in this clubhouse is surreal."
Weaver also was happy to share the event with Hunter, as he knew the nine-time Gold Glover was a deserving All-Star after leading Angels' regulars with a .298 batting average, 15 home runs and 62 RBIs.
"Torii has had a great first half and a great career," Weaver said. "He's a class act and someone you look up to in the clubhouse. He's always been there for me, so it's great to stand there on the line and tip our caps to the fans."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.