Torii Hunter is catching on in right field

The lone Angels highlight Tuesday night came in the second inning, when Torii Hunter leaped above the five-foot-high right-field wall in Fenway Park to rob Boston Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre of a home run.

It marked the 36th time, according to the Minnesota Twins and Angels — the teams Hunter has played for in his 12-year big league career — that Hunter has robbed an opponent of a homer, and the first time he has done so as a right fielder.

Pitcher Jered Weaver thrust both arms in the air as he watched Hunter pull the ball back, and Hunter, who moved to right field Aug. 3 to accommodate new center fielder Peter Bourjos, flashed a huge grin after throwing the ball to the infield.

“That was pretty sweet,” Weaver said. “He’s done in it center field for so many years, now he’s doing it in right. It was fun seeing his big smile after that catch.”

Reporting from Boston — The Red Sox soon wiped those smiles off the Angels’ faces.

Hunter has been nicknamed " Spiderman” because of his ability to scale outfield walls, but the Angels would have needed King Kong atop Godzilla’s shoulders to rob Boston’s Darnell McDonald of a third-inning homer.

McDonald crushed an 0-and-1 pitch from Weaver high over the bleachers atop the Green Monster in left field, the ball shattering the back window of a car parked in a garage behind the 37-foot-high wall.

An inning later, Ryan Kalish lined his first career grand slam into the Boston bullpen for a 5-0 Red Sox lead.

Hunter, at least, took some satisfaction in making a highlight-reel play at his new position.

“Just to let you know I can play anywhere,” Hunter said. “Put me at shortstop and I’ll play there. I’m just talking trash.”

Small ball

Erick Aybar hit his fifth home run of the season in the Angels’ 10-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 7, and looking back, it may have been the worst thing to happen to the

switch-hitting shortstop.

In seven games since hitting that homer, Aybar, who batted leadoff for the first four months of the season, has four hits in 30 at-bats, a .133 clip that has dropped his average from .278 to .268.

Manager Mike Scioscia dropped Aybar from the second spot to sixth Tuesday night, hoping to ease the pressure on him, but that didn’t help.

Aybar grounded into a double play in the second inning, flied to center field in the fifth, grounded out to first base with the bases loaded to end the sixth and struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded to end the eighth.

“He’s getting a little bit big [with his swing],” Scioscia said. “He’s got to get a little tighter. His swing is getting a little long. He’s trying to do too much.

“Sometimes you can look back, and when a little guy hits a home run — he hit that one in Detroit — at times it takes some at-bats to find that feel again.”

Comeback trail

Right-hander Joel Pineiro, who suffered a rib-cage strain while warming up for a July 28 start against Boston, began playing catch Tuesday, the first significant step toward his return.

Pineiro appears ahead of schedule in his recovery — he was expected to be out six to eight weeks — but he will need to progress to long toss to throwing off a bullpen mound to either a simulated game or minor league game before pitching for the Angels.

“He really looked good; he had a nice arm stroke,” Scioscia said. “But there’s still a process moving forward.”

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