Some pitchers struggle in their first appearance against their former team.
But not Orioles right-hander Preston Guilmet.
Forgotten in the Orioles' 13-inning loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night was Guilmet's performance, a perfect relief outing after he was called up from Triple-A Norfolk just hours before the game.
Promoted to replace right-hander Tommy Hunter, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin, Guilmet tossed 2 1/3 hitless innings against the Indians.
Guilmet recorded seven outs on just 25 pitches after entering the game in the 11th inning against the organization that drafted him in 2009 and traded him to the Orioles in April for minor league outfielder Torsten Boss.
“There was a lot of emotion,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Sometimes, when they’re facing their old team, it can work against you.”
Guilmet now has retired all 12 hitters who he has faced in the major leagues this year.
“He’s got good tempo, [and a] good, real aggressive, confident front,” Showalter said. “He’s got some ways to get people out.”
Guilmet used his full arsenal with ruthless efficiency Thursday, striking out Nick Swisher and then inducing a pair of weak groundouts in the 11th. He retired the next four batters -- three in the 12th and the first out in the 13th -- with the same ease, avoiding any three-ball counts.
After Guilmet left the game with one out in the 13th, the Indians loaded the bases. Carlos Santana’s two-run double with two outs put Cleveland ahead, and the Indians held on for an 8-7 win.
“Guilmet looked amazing,” said left-hander Troy Patton, who took the loss. “He was locating very well.”
It wasn’t Guilmet’s first impressive performance this season. In a two-game stint with the Orioles earlier this month, he struck out three of the five batters he faced. But he was sent back down to Norfolk on May 13 to make room for right-hander Kevin Gausman.
Guilmet has what Showalter calls an “unorthodox” delivery, and his split-finger fastball helps him attack left-handed hitters. But he has spent his career as a one-inning reliever, something the manager hopes will change this year.
And despite the reliever’s good track record in the minor leagues, in four total appearances last season with the Indians, Guilmet allowed six earned runs in 5.1 innings (10.13 ERA).
On Thursday, Guilmet pitched his longest outing of the year. Even that was too much for Showalter, who expressed unease at letting him pitch into the 13th inning.
“I actually pushed him one more [batter] than I wanted to,” Showalter said. “I’m trying to squeak every at-bat and every inning I can out of everybody, because we’re pretty thin [in the bullpen].”
But Guilmet remained unhittable before leaving the game for Patton, who surrendered Santana’s go-ahead double.
twitter.com/the_zunigaCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun