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Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter continues search for his fastball command

Orioles pitcher Tommy Hunter is undoubtedly well-regarded by the club’s organizational brass. Even though he’s only 25, he’s pitched in big games and played in the postseason while he was with the Rangers.

He’s a guy who the Orioles would like to be a part of their rotation for years to come.

Hunter is not going to overwhelm batters with his stuff. Instead, he relies on his fastball command to work hitters.

But over his past two starts, Hunter has struggled. In an eventual 7-5 win at Toronto last week, he allowed four homers, tying a career high.

And in last night’s 8-1 loss to the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, the right-hander said he couldn’t find his fastball all night. From his bullpen, he didn’t feel good.

“Actually I threw a [horrible] bullpen,” Hunter said following Wednesday’s game. “[I] felt good in the first inning and then lost it.  Was up in the zone, ball didn’t get down and I didn’t make an adjustment. I can honestly say that. I did not make an adjustment. Got to do it. That’s what this game is about -- it’s about making adjustments.”

Hunter’s disappointment was obvious. He launched into an expletive-laced postgame interview session, at one time apologizing to reporters because some of his quotes weren’t usable.

Hunter’s home run numbers are concerning. He’s allowed six in his past two starts. Those six homers allowed are the most of any American League pitcher.

Hunter’s success is rooted in his fastball command, so he’s a pitcher that needs that to work his other pitches in order to get hitters out. He’s always had a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio, including an impressive 3.50 in his brief time in Baltimore last season after the Orioles acquired him and first baseman Chris Davis in July.

Hunter allowed 11 homers in 11 starts with the Orioles last season, including two games allowing three homers.

Last night’s four walks were the most Hunter has yielded in 30 appearances dating back to Sept. 1, 2010.

“The walks are one thing, but he actually dodged a bullet a couple innings there,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “But he did get fairly deep in the game and kept us from having to use too many people."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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