Angels hopeful Torii Hunter will return next week

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Especially now that Vernon Wells is out 8-10 weeks, the Angels could really use Torii Hunter back. It looks like it might happen early next week.

Hunter missed his 10th straight game Wednesday after being put on the restricted list to attend to matters involving his son in Texas. 17-year-old Darius McClinton-Hunter was one of five youths arrested in a sexual assault case earlier this month.

The Angels initially hoped Hunter would return this weekend, but he decided to stay in Texas.

“It’s still open-ended,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “We talked last week and thought he was going to be with us on this road trip.”

Now the hope is that he’ll return at some point during next week’s homestand. Scioscia said that Hunter has been working out, running and hitting in the batting cage he has at his house in the Dallas area.

“I think Torii’s always up. He’s dealing with an issue; that’s kind of where we want to leave it,” Scioscia said. “No doubt he wants to get back playing baseball, because that’s what he’s all about. But he has to be comfortable with his situation and work through some things.”

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.