Torii Hunter keeps it short, sweet

If Vernon Wells wants to break out of this five-month-long slump known as 2011, he might want to ditch watching video of his own at-bats and, instead, watch Torii Hunter's recent ones.

Over the past month, Hunter has been on fire, but it's been a slow-growing fire. For the first couple of weeks, he was concentrating on making contact. He was spraying singles to the right side and up the middle, but rarely pulling deep drives.

Then, once he settled into a comfortable groove, he started looking to let it rip. By going back to basics, he has made himself a force in the American League, with a .429 batting average this month, his two home runs powering the Angels' 8-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles Friday night.

"Sometimes, that's what happens when you keep it simple, stupid," Hunter said. "That's pretty much what I'm doing, keeping it simple, stupid. I'm keeping it balanced, my head down, short to the ball and sometimes this happens, when the wind is blowing."

Hunter isn't the kind of hitter who figures to carry a team to a pennant, as Vladimir Guerrero did for the Angels en route to winning the MVP award in 2004, but he is the kind of hitter who seems to thrive under pressure. He's a .305 hitter in 131 playoff at-bats.

He has steadfastly maintained that the Angels are in a race for the AL West, six games back after losing three of four to Texas earlier this week. He's trying to lead by example, by making the small adjustments it takes to succeed at crunch time. Now, if a few more Angels hitters could follow his lead, maybe we'll have something to talk about in a few weeks.