09/23/12 1:46 PM ET
Hunter makes heads turn with velocity in relief
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"It got everybody's attention in here," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "To try to say nobody looks up there at the gun, sure you do. You try to see the speed on the breaking ball and the changeup. ... I don't know if you remember, the first day we got him in a trade [from Texas], we were in Kansas City, and we brought him out of the 'pen just to get his feet wet. He lit it up pretty good there, but nothing like he did yesterday."
Hunter was a closer at Alabama, and he led the staff in wins (seven), saves (five), innings pitched (107) and strikeouts (96) as a draft-eligible sophomore. Though he has reached the upper-90s on occasion as a starter, he knew on Saturday that he was throwing hard because catcher Matt Wieters stuck with the fastball.
"No balls really were struck very well," said Hunter, "and Wiety kept calling it, so I knew I had to be throwing hard. Because usually he mixes it up a little better, but he just kept calling fastball to [Dustin] Pedroia. And I was like, '[Shoot], maybe I am throwing pretty hard.' And I just stayed with him and tried to throw the next pitch harder than the pitch before."
Showalter said that the expanded roster allows him to use the 26-year-old Hunter in short stints.
Hunter called pitching in relief "totally different" from being a starter and agreed that it's easier to let loose for one inning rather than pace himself through six or seven. Since moving to the bullpen after being recalled on Sept. 3, he has had seven consecutive scoreless outings, with nine strikeouts over eight innings.
But exactly how accurate were the readings at Fenway Park? MLB.com's Gameday also had Hunter in triple-digits, but with a maximum of 100 mph.
"OK, say it's off by two -- 99 is still pretty good," Showalter said. "Tommy is a big, strong guy. We've thought [all along] that if things didn't work out as a starter -- Tommy's pitched some good games as a starter -- that he could be a useful piece out of [the 'pen], too."
Andino back in action after taking pitch to head
BOSTON -- Robert Andino was back in the lineup on Sunday, having been cleared by the medical staff earlier in the day. The second baseman sat out on Saturday as a precaution after taking a fastball off his helmet late Friday night.
Manager Buck Showalter planned on talking to Andino, who was still upset on Saturday about the Mark Melacon fastball that bounced off his helmet and hit his earflap and neck.
"It's one of the things on my checklist," Showalter said. "I know our pitching staff and how they feel about protecting our hitters. What happens in a situation like that is [that] the [guy who retaliates] always gets in trouble. We certainly can't afford any suspensions at a time like this, but it's still frustrating. Robert's come a long way. Sometimes there are different periods in your life when you fire first and ask questions later, and in the position we're in, it's not a good idea."
Asked after Saturday's game if he thought the pitch was intentional, Andino said, "At this level, man, I think you should have command of your pitches. But whatever."
What about the possibility that Boston was looking for some retribution? It was Andino who infamously uttered, "End of a season like this, [to] make Boston go home sad, crying, I'll take it all day," after he hit a two-out, ninth-inning walk-off RBI last season and Tampa Bay's walk-off moments later effectively ended Boston's 2011 campaign.
"If that's the case, that's [bull], [that's] how I see it," he said. "But whatever."
After being hit, Andino, who went 2-for-2 with a walk on Friday, took a few steps toward the mound while waving off head athletic trainer Richie Bancells from the dugout. Showalter also went out to help defuse the situation.
After Andino took first base and conferred with Showalter and Bancells, he was removed for pinch-runner Omar Quintanilla. Andino was alert and awake the entire time, and walked off the field without assistance. Following Andino's exit, home-plate umpire Mark Wegner issued warnings to both clubs.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.