Just close it out against the defending champions and protect a one-run lead against batters like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
Well, Hunter did just that, getting a 22-pitch save to preserve the O’s 2-1 win at Camden Yards. In the postgame clubhouse interviews, Hunter repeatedly praised the crowd for helping him in the ninth.
“Our crowd was legit,” he said. “That was awesome. Hope they come out like that for 80 more here. If they can do that, we’re going to be having a fun time.
“It is fun to play in front of sellouts here. Glad we got one in the books. If you are not having fun listening to that crowd and having jitters in your stomach, you should find another job.”
Hunter hit the first batter he faced, Will Middlebrooks, and gave up a one-out single to Pedroia. But with the potential tying run at second, he got Ortiz to fly to left and struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. looking at a cutter to end it as 46,685 roared their approval.
“That was fun. Hopefully it’s like that a lot more,” he said. “That was enjoyable. Had to earn it. That is a way of life in baseball. One-run game to start the season off against the defending world champs, here we are.
“Hats off to our team. They played hard. Tilly (Chris Tillman) kept us in the game, bullpen came through. It is always scripted out like that, right?”
A reporter pointed out to Hunter that some of the hitters he faced in the dramatic ninth inning had some good numbers against him.
“Man, we don’t look at numbers, come on,” he said laughing. “No, I mean, they’re a good team. They won the World Series, so you know you’ll have your hands full when you face them.”
This was Hunter’s fifth career save and first since Aug. 21. He said he embraces the chance to pitch with a lead in the ninth.
“Without a doubt. If it’s like it was today, every day, I’m going to have a great time doing it,” he said. “Crowd made that game in the ninth. It was rocking out there. You could feel it on the mound, I’ll tell you that much. Hats off to you guys.”