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Kotchman was a hungry hitter

Times Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Casey Kotchman is pretty sure he caught food poisoning on the plane ride home from Boston after Game 2 of the American League division series last October.

But just to be sure, the Angels first baseman, who was so ill he watched Game 3 of the series from an Anaheim hospital bed, avoided the food in the team’s Fenway Park clubhouse this week.

“I did room service -- I didn’t eat at the park except for a few protein bars,” Kotchman said. “It’s a little mental glitch for me. I’m trying to be safe. The tough thing is, I like the food here, but I haven’t messed with it.”

Whatever Kotchman ate in Boston, it seemed to agree with him. He hit a tying home run in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 7-6 loss and a tie-breaking homer in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s 6-4 win, giving him a team-leading six home runs.

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“At first base, a corner spot, you want to hit for some power, but I’m not trying to force anything,” Kotchman said. “I’m just trying to square the ball up, swing loose and easy, find the barrel of the bat.”

Kotchman’s swing, Manager Mike Scioscia said, “is geared toward line drives, using the whole field, but lately he’s getting some pitches to drive and turning on them. He was very productive last year without hitting 25 homers, and he doesn’t need that in his game, but if they’re there, great.”

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Center fielder Torii Hunter and right fielder Gary Matthews Jr. avoided injury Thursday when the two collided on Manny Ramirez’s drive to the gap in right-center in the seventh inning.

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Hunter appeared to make a leaping catch in front of the wall, but Matthews, a center fielder who is adjusting to the corner spots, crashed into Hunter, jarring the ball loose. Ramirez was credited with a double but did not score in the inning.

“We both have a lot of range, and the ball was hit right in the middle, but there was no harm done,” Hunter said. “Gary was trying to get out of the way and ran into me. I had it in my glove, but it was no catch. Incomplete.”

Matthews said the more he and Hunter play together, “the more we’ll get used to each other’s range. . . . We’ll get it right.”

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For the fifth consecutive year, the Angels ranked first among baseball teams in an ESPN magazine fan satisfaction poll, which is based on criteria such as stadium experience, ownership, affordability of tickets, parking and concessions, players’ effort on the field and likability off the field, and titles won.

The Angels ranked sixth overall among teams in the four major sports, behind the Indianapolis Colts, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Hornets, Green Bay Packers and Anaheim Ducks.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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