Orioles option Guilmet, Showalter talks about Hunter and 4-1 loss

The Orioles optioned reliever Preston Guilmet to Triple-A Norfolk tonight to make room for Kevin Gausman, who starts Wednesday afternoon against the Tigers at Camden Yards.

Guilmet struck out the only batter he faced tonight after replacing closer Tommy Hunter with two outs in the ninth. He retired all five batters he faced the past two nights, fanning three of them.

Manager Buck Showalter wanted to talk about catcher Caleb Joseph tonight, but he knew the topic would shift to Hunter, who gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning for his third blown save.

Hunter has allowed 28 baserunners in 15 innings and his ERA is up to 6.60.

hunter-giving-buck-ball-white-sidebar.jpg“There’s a lot of things in that game we could have done to not put ourselves in that situation,” Showalter said following a 4-1 loss to the Tigers. “Caleb had a great game. If it wasn’t for Caleb, we might not have been in that situation. I was really proud of Caleb tonight. He did a heck of a job. Made a lot of good decisions. But there’s a lot of things we could have done. We just haven’t solved their pitching in two games. We have to do some things to not create that situation. But I understand where the focus will be when you’re one pitch away. There’s a lot of places in that lineup where you have to pick your poison. Not many good decisions.”

Hunter walked Torii Hunter with the count full to bring up Miguel Cabrera, who’s three run homer wiped out the Orioles’ 1-0 lead. Victor Martinez homered onto Eutaw Street on the next pitch.

“Just one pitch away,” Showalter said. “He made some pitches. The guy he makes a good pitch on at the beginning (Alex Avila) hits the ball off the end of the bat. Not much you can do about that.”

Pinch-runner Rajai Davis was called out at second base on an attempted steal, but umpires overturned the call upon review.

“It’s a tough decision for the replay people to overrule,” Showalter said. “There’s another out. Made a close pitch on Hunter. Got fortunate that Ian Kinsler’s ball was right at somebody. He hit that ball pretty firm. But you’re a pitch away. But once you get in that corner of Cabrera and Victor Martinez ... plus you’ve got Kinsler and Hunter sitting there.”

The walk to Torii Hunter, who was down 1-2, may have been the biggest at-bat of the inning, though Showalter didn’t want to heighten its importance.

“What are you going to do, just give in and just throw it right down (the middle)?” Showalter said. “He’s trying to make a quality pitch there. He got a count in his favor and we lost the advantage we had there.”

Asked whether Tommy Hunter’s confidence may be shaken, Showalter replied, “Everybody’s human. Of course there is. But ask the guy (Joe Nathan) who finished up the game for them tonight. Early in the year, he couldn’t get anybody out.

“It’s tough and unfortunately in a night like this, what kind of gets lost in the shuffle is how well (Ubaldo) Jimenez pitched. Ubi was great. Against a team that’s seen a lot of him and had a lot of at-bats off him. He’s very quietly pitching pretty well for us right now. Darren (O’Day) had a good clean eighth for us, but just one pitch away and a couple of breaks.

“I talked to Bob (Davidson) during the pitching change and he gave me an idea of what they said (during review), just as a perspective, give me an explanation of what they were told. I really don’t think that’s fair to them and the people they work with, which are fellow umpires, but I appreciate it. I don’t always agree with everything, but they ... I think we have the same looks that they do. I know they got that from a Detroit feed, I believe. But that isn’t what beat us. Usually, those that close ... but it’s all in the eye of the beholder.”

Davidson, the crew chief, offered an explanation.

“They overturned the call,” he said. “It was very close, and we looked at it and it was correct. It should have been overturned. They’re able to slow everything down and stop it where the umpire on the field, obviously, can’t do that. We looked at it, because what they show on the scoreboard in all of the ballparks, they can show what they want.

“It was very close, and the replay guy told me, ‘Hey, this is a tight call, but we have to reverse it.’ We came in here and looked at it and it should have been reversed.”

Is this the same Hunter that Showalter saw last year?

“Tommy had some hiccups in the eighth,” he replied. “There’s another inning, just like we talked about before today, before batting practice. There’s a certain finality about it. It’s challenging. We take a step back and take a breath and see, evaluate where we are, where our people are more importantly, and the problem is you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.

“He’s had his moments where he pitched really well. That’s a really tough part of the lineup there.”

The leadoff hitter continually reaches base against Hunter, raising the question of whether Showalter may have been better served to let O’Day start the ninth.

“The first batter of that ninth was a left-handed hitter,” Showalter said. “What you’re going to end up doing is trying to use two or three people every night to pitch the ninth inning, you’re going to have trouble getting through the sixth, seventh, and eighth inning. That’s what I’m talking about, Peter and Paul. I mean, I get it.

“If we get the outing we got out of Jimenez every night, yeah, we could do things like that. But that’s hard to do, especially against the Tigers. You’d really like to take advantage of as good an outing as we got.

“We didn’t put a whole lot together off of (Drew Smyly). But I understand where, in today’s world, where the focus goes.”

Asked if he is worried about Hunter mentally, Showalter replied, “It’s something that you’re alert to. He closed the first, second, third and fourth innings as a starter. He closed the seventh and eighth innings as a relief pitcher. There’s a different finality. We talked about it. So, yeah, you’re alert to it. But you’re not ... fearful’s not the right word. You’re alert to it, you keep and eye on it. And if there’s some adjustments that need to be made, we’ll make them.

“I’m not going to get in to handicapping, this means that and that means this, and we’re going to ... we’ll constantly see what gives us the best option to pitch nine innings and be competitive and continue to be in first place. And that’s what we’ll do.”

Jimenez was sensational tonight, allowing only three hits in seven scoreless innings. He walked two, struck out seven and took a tough no-decision.

“Couldn’t have asked for much better,” Showalter said. “That’s a tough lineup. He had everything working. Caleb did a great job with him too. Caleb will get the cerebral part of calling a game and being engaged. He really slowed the game down tonight. The first couple of games he caught, it was moving real fast for him in the ninth inning. I would have been sitting here talking about, probably Caleb, if we had gotten the out call. I beat you all to it and talked about him anyway.”

Jimenez posted a 6.59 ERA in April. It’s 0.46 in three May starts, typical of the pattern he’s established in his career. Why?

“I wish I had all the answers to everything,” Showalter said. “You make educated evaluations, you hope, and live with the consequences. But there’s a lot of slow starters. It’s not something you just can evaluate through...it’s a track record thing. That’s why you don’t panic in April, why certain guys have a track record. And that’s also why you clamor for guys to establish a track record.

“Manny (Machado’s) not centering up every pitch, but he’s got a little bit of a track record from last year. He’s coming through some things.”

Down on the farm, Single-A Frederick’s Parker Bridwell took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before surrendering a one-out single and coming out of the game.

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