Hunter said the game-tying home run by Toronto’s Colby Rasmus wasn’t on his mind today.
“Still, I feel like I made pitches the other night,” he said. “I feel like I had a game plan going in and I executed it to the best I could do. I said it the other day, ‘Give the guy credit.’ I think I got some people who didn’t like that comment, but sometimes they get you and that’s what happened the other day. I threw the pitch exactly where I wanted it and it went his way.
“I’m not going to harp on that thing. I’m going to have a game plan coming into the games and if I execute it, I should prevail most of the time. It wasn’t big getting out there, but it was big winning for the team, you know. We got a couple wins here and we’re going to Boston.”
Such is the life of a closer.
“Yeah, it comes with the job and I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’m going to go out there. Like I said, I have a game plan. I’ve got an idea what I want to do and I’m going to try to execute it every night.”
Zach Britton aided the bullpen by tossing three scoreless innings to increase his season total to 11 1/3 frames.
“It was huge, man,” Hunter said. “The guy’s throwing the ball well. You’ve got to pat him on the butt. He’s got a game plan, too. It’s fun to see when you see guys who have a game plan and have an idea what they want to do and then they actually do it. It’s a lot of conviction he has right now. He’s throwing the ball with a lot of confidence and I hope it continues.”
Catcher Matt Wieters knows why Britton is so much better this year.
“His command of the sinker,” Wieters said. “I think being able to throw it for a strike as well as when it runs out of the zone is big for him. I know this spring he took a lot of pride in working on that and trying to get it the way he could command it.”
Britton clearly is pitching with more confidence in 2014.
“I think so,” Wieters said. “Throwing strikes with his stuff is going to lead to confidence. And the more strikes he throws, I think, the more he’ll realize how good his sinker actually is.”
Miguel Gonzalez shut out the Rays over five innings, allowing three hits, striking out six and throwing 98 pitches. They fouled off a lot of them.
“I thought he located well,” Wieters said. “His pitch count got a little elevated, but I thought he threw the ball well. He gave us a chance to win, and then Britton came in and threw the ball outstanding.”
Gonzalez was challenged by the cold weather, but at least it was dry. Not like in Detroit for his first outing.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I made some good pitches when I need to and we won the ballgame. We got some great defense out there. I think (Nick) Markakis in the fourth inning was good for us.”
The Rays didn’t put the leadoff hitter on base during Gonzalez’s five innings.
“The first out is real important,” Gonzalez said. “Get your infield and outfield ready to go. Make good pitches after that. I struggled a little bit with a couple of hitters. We were able to win that ballgame with a couple of hits that we got that were important. That bunt, that swing bunt that Adam Jones had, and great defense all around.”
Wieters gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly, the ball carrying to the center field fence. Sure looked like a home run when it left his bat.
“Today was a tough day,” he said. “If it was a summer day, i would have had a lot more confidence in it. But I was able to get one in the air. I was happy at first. But definitely hit it pretty well.”
Jones had two infield hits and an RBI while serving as the designated hitter. He was listed as the center fielder on the first lineup card.
“Sometimes, you’ve just got to be able to use your legs,” he said. “You’re not always going to be able to swing the bat to the best of your ability or the way you would like to. So, in certain situations, it’s smart to drop a bunt down and get your timing back.”