Hunter expected to start on Saturday (and notes)

BOSTON - Manager Buck Showalter hasn't named a starter for Saturday's game against the Phillies, but all signs point to Tommy Hunter.

Well, one sign certainly does: He's not starting today for Triple-A Norfolk and he isn't listed among the Tides' probables through the weekend.

Hunter was scheduled to start today, but Jason Berken moved up a day and is taking the mound at Rochester. The only other confirmed starter is Jamie Moyer on Saturday.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't confirm Hunter's pending call up, saying in a text message, "That is possible but there are also other options for the team to consider."

The Orioles must be giving really strong consideration to Hunter, since he isn't pitching today.

In his only start for Norfolk, Hunter allowed one run and six hits over seven innings. He's 2-3 with a 5.59 ERA and 1.43 WHIP with the Orioles, who optioned him after he gave up five earned runs (six total) and nine hits, including two home runs, in three innings in Toronto on May 28.

Hunter allowed 11 runs (10 earned) and 18 hits in his last two starts covering nine innings. He registered one quality start in his last five outings.

Hunter has been struggling to keep the ball down. It all starts with fastball command.

Showalter suggested this week that he could use relievers to piece together Saturday's start. Berken, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman were eliminated from consideration because they pitched over the last three days.

As for a corresponding roster move, the Orioles currently have eight relievers to go with their four starters, so they could eliminate one arm in their bullpen. Miguel Gonzalez could be on thin ice.

Here are some notes, courtesy of the Orioles' PR department:

tommy-hunter-throwing-white-sidebar.jpgWith a win tonight, the Orioles would complete their second sweep of a three-game series at Fenway Park this year. According to Elias, the Orioles have never swept two series of three or more games each in the same season in Boston. The St. Louis Browns didn't do it, either.

The Orioles have won seven straight games at Fenway Park dating back to Sept. 20, 2011, setting the franchise record for most consecutive wins at Fenway Park. Since 1954, the Orioles had won six straight at Fenway just three times prior to the current seven-game streak.

The Orioles have a 2.64 ERA in five games at Fenway Park this year. Since 1954, that is the lowest ERA posted by an Orioles club on Yawkey Way, ahead of the 2.77 ERA recorded by the 1999 Orioles in six games. In 2011, the Orioles posted a 7.77 in nine games at Fenway Park.

A win tonight would give the Orioles six wins at Fenway Park in 2012, which would tie for the third-most by the club in one season. The Orioles won eight at Fenway in 1960 and 1966. They've won six in a season on five occasions (1967, 1974, 1975, 2001 and 2004.).

The Orioles are unbeaten on the road on Thursdays (2-0) and their 4-1 record on Thursdays is their best of any day of the week, just ahead of their 7-2 mark on Saturdays.

The Orioles are 5-4 in road series finales, but they've lost three straight. They're 2-3 in road finales against American League East clubs.

The Orioles have not recorded an extra-base hit in three of their last six games. They've homered in 29 of their 32 wins this season, but they haven't gone deep in their last two wins.

Meanwhile, Berken left today's game in Rochester in the sixth inning after colliding with first baseman Joe Mahoney while chasing a pop up in foul territory. He allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings.

I'll check for updates later.

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