Did you catch that on MASN’s “O’s Xtra” postgame show last night, when Rick Dempsey said that maybe we should start referring to Tommy Hunter as Don Stanhouse?
For the younger crowd, Stanhouse was the one-time Orioles closer who had a way of getting into big trouble on his way to a save. Earl Weaver called him “Full Pack,” as in Weaver could smoke a full pack of cigarettes nervously waiting for the game to end.
I could sense the nervousness throughout Birdland late last night when Toronto loaded the bases with one out against Hunter in the ninth, as he was protecting a 10-8 lead. After all that offense and coming from five runs down, they would not give up this game in the ninth, would they?
I can only imagine what the comments would have looked like here well into the early morning hours had that one gotten away.
But Hunter stayed calmed - even if everyone watching probably was not - and got a double play ball to end it. He has saved six of seven so far and the only he didn’t was when Colby Rasmus hit a 98 mph high fastball for a homer at Camden Yards.
I’m not sure how Hunter will do as the year wears on, but I do think he has the guts for the job and he doesn’t rattle easily. Good thing, because last night was surely a chance to do that.
Hunter is settling into the job and I think he has the chance to be a good closer. But some parts of the stat sheet don’t look great right now. He has given up five hits in 16 at-bats against lefty batters for a .313 average and five in 12 against right-handed hitters for a .417 average.
It’s all a small sample right now, but when he pitches with runners in scoring position, opponents are just 2-for-11 against him. And with RISP and two outs they are 0-for-5 with three strikeouts facing Hunter.
It’s like watching the NFL defense that gives up 400 yards but no touchdowns. He bends but doesn’t break. The bottom line is good right now.
So does this make fans confident or concerned about Hunter moving forward?
Some other notes from last night:
* Chris Tillman had given up just five earned runs in four starts and 26 1/3 innings before last night. Then he gave up six in one inning and seven over 5 2/3 innings. But he got the win and the Orioles are now 4-1 in his starts this year and 35-18 in his starts since 2012.
* Before last night, the Orioles had played Toronto four times and scored just eight total runs this season. They were batting .138 (4-for-29) with RISP. But then they scored 10 runs Wednesday night, going 3-for-8 with RISP.
* O’s pitching in this series has worked 17 innings allowing 25 hits and 17 runs (16 earned) with eight walks, 22 strikeouts and six homers given up.
* The O’s did not make an error, and they are 10-5 this season when they play error-free ball and 0-5 when they don’t.
* Chris Davis has hit both his homers in 2014 off Toronto and he has hit 18 homers in 40 games off the Blue Jays since 2012.
* The O’s had hit two homers in their last seven games before last night - both by Cruz - and then they hit four. They had four total in the previous 10 games.
* Finally, on April 11 against Toronto, Tillman gave up no earned runs and three hits in eight innings and lost. Last night he gave up seven earned runs in 5 2/3 and won.