By Dan Connolly
10:17 PM EDT, March 26, 2012
BRADENTON, Fla. – Tommy Hunter had a solid outing the last time he took the mound Wednesday, but he was disappointed with his lack of command.
That wasn’t a problem on Monday night, when Hunter absolutely breezed through six scoreless innings in the Orioles’ 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Orioles’ right-hander walked the first batter he faced on five pitches, then immediately picked up a double play and a three-pitch strikeout to get out of the first. He really wasn’t in trouble again, which certainly helped his chances of making the club’s rotation.
Hunter allowed just one hit – a two-out double by Neil Walker in the fourth – while striking out five. Hunter threw 70 pitches, 42 for strikes. He was so efficient that he had to throw another 15 pitches in the bullpen after his outing to get to his target of 85.
“It was definitely fun,” said Hunter, who missed much of the exhibition season due to lower back discomfort. “This was baseball, going out for six innings and still having something left.”
Former Oriole Erik Bedard matched Hunter for six scoreless innings, but the Orioles broke through against Bedard in the seventh. Mark Reynolds had a RBI single and later scored on an error by Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Bedard allowed seven hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings.
“Both pitchers looked like they were ready to start the season,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Bedard and Hunter. “Tommy was good. Tommy had a good look in his face. Guys understand what time of year it is and what's going on. He was really focused tonight.”
The Pirates scored an unearned run in the seventh against Jim Johnson, which was set up by a Matt Wieters’ throwing error. Wieters got the run back in the eighth with a RBI single.
The Orioles added a fourth run in the ninth – again unearned – on a RBI single by Blake Davis. The Pirates attempted to rally in the ninth, with two on and two out, but Darren O’Day struck out Garrett Jones to end the game.
The Orioles improved to 10-9-5 for the spring.
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