You know Torii Hunter hit that Dodger Stadium outfield wall hard in the fourth inning Sunday when the Angels center fielder had the wind -- and the words -- knocked right out of him.
Hunter is one of the most personable players in the game, a guy who enjoys the banter with reporters almost as much as he loves making game-saving plays.
But Hunter was too sore and probably a little too woozy from his latest highlight-reel catch and high-speed collision to talk about it after the Angels’ grueling 10-7 victory over the Dodgers in front of 54,122.
It was up to others to fill the void.
“He’s an amazing guy, one of the best players in baseball,” said pitcher Matt Palmer, who was on the mound when Hunter made his catch. “He’s one of my favorite players in the game, by far. Not all Gold Glovers can do that stuff.”
Said Angels infielder Chone Figgins: “They should just give him the Gold Glove now.”
Hunter has eight Gold Gloves, and he showed why Sunday when, with the Angels trailing, 4-2, he slammed face first into the wall, with his glove arm fully extended, just as he made a spectacular catch of Matt Kemp’s drive to open the fourth inning.
Hunter crashed into the same wall to make a catch Friday, only this time it looked as if the wall had struck back.
Hunter fell onto his back on the warning track, first clutching his left shoulder and then holding up his glove to show umpires he caught the ball.
He stayed on the ground for several minutes, as Manager Mike Scioscia, teammates and trainers rushed to the outfield.
“When we got out there, he hadn’t caught his breath yet -- he had the wind knocked out of him for a long time,” Scioscia said. “As soon as he caught his breath he said, ‘I’m playing.’ I don’t think he was going to come out of the game at that time if we tied him up and put him on a stretcher.”
Hunter got to his feet, the crowd cheering an effort that Kemp, the Dodgers’ center fielder, could appreciate.
Asked whether he was surprised by the play, Kemp said, “Heck no. You see how many Gold Gloves he has? He told me he was going to do that too.”
He really said something?
“That’s my boy,” Kemp said. “We talk all the time. He said before the series, ‘Don’t hit the ball to me.’ I feel the same way. . . . It’s just good he didn’t get hurt. I thought he got hurt pretty bad.”
He did get banged up, just not enough to stop him from delivering two huge hits, the first a run-scoring single in a three-run sixth-inning rally against ace Chad Billingsley that gave the Angels a 5-4 lead. Juan Rivera (single) and Kendry Morales (sacrifice fly) also drove in runs in the inning.
In the seventh, after the Dodgers intentionally walked Bobby Abreu to load the bases with one out, Hunter grounded a two-run single to left field for a 7-4 lead.
Hunter left in the bottom of the seventh because of tightness in his right leg, but Scioscia said he was hurting all over.
“He’s going to be sore [today],” Scioscia said. “He hit that wall hard, but that’s the way Torii plays. It was a heck of a catch. Every day, he seems to do something better than the last day.”
The Dodgers nearly tied the score in the eighth when James Loney hit a sacrifice fly and Jamie Hoffmann, who highlighted a four-run second inning with a three-run home run -- his first hit as a Dodger -- hit a run-scoring double against Darren Oliver.
An intentional walk to pinch-hitter Mark Loretta loaded the bases with one out, but Rafael Furcal grounded into a force play at home, and Juan Pierre lined out to second baseman Figgins, his good friend and winter workout partner, to end the inning.
The Angels tacked on three runs in the ninth, with Abreu (triple), Rivera (run-scoring single) and Morales (run-scoring single) delivering big hits.
After being three for 24 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series, the Angels were seven for 12 on Sunday, banged out 16 hits, 13 of them singles, and overcame a 4-0 deficit.
“We’re more of a line-driving-hitting team; we’re not going to hit a ton of home runs,” said Robb Quinlan, who had two hits, two runs and a run batted in.
“We just kept getting on, going first to third and putting pressure on them.”
And, thanks to Hunter, playing superb defense.
“Any ball in the air, we think he’s going to catch,” Quinlan said.