TORONTO -- For players in the second halves and fourth quarters of their careers, September losses in pursuit of October dreams hit hard. So, there was Torii Hunter on Monday night, seated, head down, at his locker for close to a half hour absorbing the pain of a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays in 10 innings.
"It's been desperate for me since August," said Hunter, the Angels' right fielder and acknowledged clubhouse leader. "I've been hungry since August.
"I have the same approach as every other day. We had a chance to get a half-game closer [to American League West-leading Texas] and it got away. All is not lost. We just need to be [within] three by Monday."
With nine games left heading into Tuesday's contests, the Rangers' magic number for clinching the division title is five -- any combination of Texas wins and Angels losses adding up to five. The Angels are 4 1/2 games behind Boston and 2 1/2 behind Tampa Bay in the Wild Card chase.
Esteemed veterans line the Angels' clubhouse, holding onto slender threads of hope. Hunter and Bobby Abreu yearn to return to the postseason and chase their first World Series titles. Fellow veteran Vernon Wells wants to get his first taste of postseason play.
"It's what you play for," Hunter said. "It's what keeps you going. The personal stuff, you've done all that. You want that ring."