Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles can't hold late lead

Before we get to the late-inning theatrics, it’s worth stating that Ubaldo Jimenez made what I think was his best start in an Oriole uniform last night. Jimenez’s line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Jimenez pitched to contact all night, and the fact is that Detroit seemed to have no clue what was coming. If they did, they had no clue how to get to it. For all of the struggles in April, Jimenez made one of the best batting orders in the major leagues look human.

Unfortunately, Jimenez’s effort went to no avail. As I’ve said before, most pitchers will get 30 starts over the course of a season; 10 good, 10 bad, and 10 in-between. If you can somehow get a win out of those in-between starts (or even a bad one), you’re really in good shape. However when you end up losing and wasting a starting pitcher’s good outing, you might want to start considering providing your starters and bullpen with more production in the runs column.

The Baltimore Orioles took an early 1-0 lead on Adam Jones‘ first inning home run, and that lead stood up as the only run to cross the plate – until the ninth inning. However while most fans are going to remember Tommy Hunter‘s blown save (and only Tommy Hunter’s blown save), you can’t fault Hunter for the O’s going 0-for-7 with RISP in the game. You can’t fault Hunter for four different Orioles putting up zeros in the hit column.

The point is that you win and lose as a team. Again, people will remember Hunter’s issues, and perhaps rightfully so. But overall if the Orioles can start to put more runs on the board perhaps they aren’t in save situations late in games. For the record, all lineups go through times when they don’t hit. I think it would be a tough sell to suggest that the O’s don’t have a potent lineup, but that’s just my view.

Alex Avila led off the ninth with a single to left field – against the shift. That in and of itself is not something that should be lost on Baltimore Orioles fans; if the O’s play their infield straight away against Avila, that ground ball is put out by Manny Machado. So is Buck Showalter to blame in that sense? I’m not sure if “blame” is the right word, however the Orioles played the odds – and lost.

Following a Kinsler line out, Rajai Davis (who pinch-ran for Avila) was thrown out attempting to steal second by Orioles’ catcher Caleb Joseph. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus immediately asked for a review, and umpire Bob Davidson agreed to it. Replays were inconclusive – or they appeared to be at least. However Davidson ruled Davis safe at first after the review, much to the protest of Showalter and the Orioles.

So long story short, Torii Hunter was down to his final strike before taking a walk following the controversial call at second base. Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer, which was followed by a Victor Martinez solo shot, and the Orioles fell 4-1.

The instant replay of course was the key call, as that would have been the second out of the inning. My personal opinion on the call was that it could have gone either way. Had they initially ruled Davis safe, that call should have been upheld. Thus the same should have been true with Davis being ruled out. However Buck Showalter said after the game that it was an angle or view on the Detroit broadcast that put the umpires over the top that he was safe. So without seeing that shot,maybe none of us can really say for sure how the call should have gone. But to say the least, this is a totally different article if the call is different.

Catcher Caleb Jospeh had a memorable evening, which included his first major league hit and three runners caught stealing. Showalter couldn’t rave about Joseph (and Jimenez) enough after the game, and the effort that the two of them put in on the defensive circuit was memorable to say the least.

The O’s will try to salvage one game of three against Detroit as the series wraps up tomorrow in a 12:30 PM matinee game at Camden Yards. That in and of itself is probably a good thing, as it’s always a positive to get right back on the field after a loss like that. The Orioles have activated Kevin Gausman from tirple-A Norfolk, who will make the start this afternoon (moving Wei-Yin Chen back a day). He’ll have a tough task indeed, as he’ll face Detroit ace Justin Verlander. Oriole bats will try to get back on track against Verlander, who they beat back in Detroit in week one of the season.

As for Tommy Hunter, it’ll be interesting to see how he’s handled. If the Orioles are in a save situation tomorrow, will those bullpen gates swing open and reveal Hunter coming into the game? Buck Showalter doesn’t appear to be a fan of the “closer by committee approach,” but time will tell.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Tommy Hunter

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