Hunter protects another lead (O’s win 5-2)

Remember when Pedro Strop was pretty much responsible for the eighth inning last season?

Remember when Darren O’Day took over that role after Strop slumped?

It seems as though the Orioles are giving Tommy Hunter that responsibility this season.

O’Day replaced starter Zach Britton in the sixth inning tonight, and left-hander Brian Matusz replaced him in the seventh and stranded two runners.

Hunter took over in the bottom of the eighth and preserved a 5-2 lead, overcoming Manny Machado’s throwing error by getting Don Kelly to pop up and striking out Omar Infante.

Since April 12, Hunter has allowed five earned runs in his last 25 games covering 36 innings, walking seven batters and striking out 28. He hasn’t surrendered a home run since May 24 in Toronto.

Hunter served up 32 of them last season. This year, he’s allowed only five.

Hunter has retired 22 of 28 first-batters faced this season.

The eighth inning seems to be in good hands.

Update: The Orioles are 10 games above .500 again with tonight’s 5-2 victory over the Tigers, and they now own their first win over Justin Verlander.

Jim Johnson recorded his 26th save, tops in the majors, though the Tigers brought the tying run to the plate after a walk and single. Miguel Cabrera grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Johnson has converted 11 save chances in a row.

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