It all starts with starting pitching (Hunter done)

It may sound like a cliche, but it's so true.

The Orioles won't improve until their starting pitching does, and it's been outstanding for the first two games of the 2012 season.

Yesterday, Jake Arrieta blanked the Twins on two hits over seven innings. Tonight, Tommy Hunter is blanking the Twins on four hits over six innings.

It hasn't been easy for Hunter. He gave up an infield hit in the first inning, an infield hit and a clean single in the second, and a leadoff double in the fourth.

He nailed the next batter, Josh Willingham, to put runners on first and second with no outs, but a pop-up and double play bailed out Hunter and kept the shutout intact.

Hunter has retired eight in a row, with Justin Morneau flying to the warning track in right to end the sixth. He's thrown 71 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Ronny Paulino is 3-for-3 as the Orioles' designated hitter. I guess manager Buck Showalter knew what he was doing.

Did you really doubt him?

Down on the farm, Josh Bell homered for Triple-A Norfolk in a 6-3 Game 1 loss to Charlotte. He started at first base.

Ryan Adams committed two errors at second base.

In Game 2, Steve Johnson has allowed one run and two hits, with one walk and four strikeouts, in three innings. He's thrown 45 pitches, 32 for strikes, and the Tides lead, 2-1.

Zelous Wheeler drove in both runs for Norfolk.

Update: Nick Markakis homered again tonight, the eighth time in his career that he's gone deep in back-to-back games. It happened most recently on July 16-17, 2011.

One out later, Matt Wieters also homered off Twins reliever Jared Burton.

Orioles 8, Twins 0.

Update II: Hunter left with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth after a Mark Reynolds error and two singles.

Pedro Strop replaced him, and two unearned runs scored on two fielder's choice grounders. The Orioles couldn't turn the double play.

Hunter is charged with two runs (none earned) and six hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches, 64 for strikes.

(Corrected): This is the first time the Orioles have had back-to-back starts of seven or more innings to open a season since 2001 (Pat Hentgen, Sidney Ponson, Jason Johnson.)

Paulino just singled again. He's 4-for-4.

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