Heaping praise on Hunter

Maybe it will go unnoticed because of Freddy Garcia’s intense flirtation with a no-hitter yesterday, the Orioles’ inability to hold a two-run lead in the eighth inning and their rally in the 10th that produced a 5-4 victory. Maybe Steve Pearce’s go-ahead single and Jim Johnson’s save will be the lasting memories from that game.

Or maybe someone out there will throw a little love in Tommy Hunter’s direction.

You know Hunter. He’s the guy who fans wanted to run out of town after his third appearance of the season. Hunter had allowed three home runs in 3 2/3 innings. Each time he warmed up, it was deemed by his detractors as a clear sign that manager Buck Showalter had waved the white flag or simply lost his mind.

If you fall in that group, you might want to check out Hunter’s full body of work this season.

Hunter picked up the win yesterday with a scoreless ninth. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven outings since April 10 in Boston.

It was a bit tense yesterday. Hunter issued a leadoff walk to the Angels’ Mark Trumbo, who was thrown out trying to steal second base. Howie Kendrick singled with two outs on a soft fly ball that fell in front of Nate McLouth in left field, but Hank Conger grounded out to end the inning.

Overall, Hunter has permitted only three runs and 11 hits in 14 2/3 innings, with three walks and 10 strikeouts. His ERA is down to 1.84.

Hunter’s fastball routinely hits 97-98 mph, and he’s topped out at 100 mph. The last three pitches to Conger yesterday were a 92 mph cutter, 97 mph four-seam fastball and 82 mph slider. In one sequence to Trumbo, Hunter threw fastballs clocked at 98, 98, 98 and 99 mph before missing with a 95 mph cutter.

He should have been credited with a strikeout yesterday, but plate umpire Wally Bell squeezed Hunter so tightly, he left fingerprints. Catcher Chris Snyder rose to his feet and took two steps toward the dugout before realizing that Hunter didn’t get a called third strike.

No problem. Hunter kept the game tied and the Orioles won it in the 10th.

Seven consecutive scoreless appearances. But who’s counting?

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