ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tommy Hunter’s biggest problem this season has been his ability to keep the ball in the park. Even on nights when he’s at his best, his penchant for allowing home runs has led to many long nights.
Hunter pitched well against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, falling just one out short of a quality start. But he made two fatal mistakes, a pair of solo home runs that were the difference in a 2-0 Baltimore Orioles’ loss in front of an announced crowd of 18,410 at Tropicana Field.
The Orioles (55-51), who entered the game tied with the Rays, fell into third place in the American League East for the first time since July 17 and just the second time since June 12.
B.J. Upton’s shot to straightaway center field in the fourth inning and Desmond Jennings’ homer to left in the sixth was all the Rays would needed against the Orioles’ struggling offense.
Hunter (4-7) has allowed 26 homers this season, most in the majors, and that after pitching just 1062
3 innings. He’s allowed 2.19 homers per nine innings. Hunter has allowed at least one home run in 15 of his 17 starts, and has allowed two or more homers in six of those outings.
Upton hit his 10th homer of the season — and the 100th of his career — on Hunter’s first pitch of the fourth. Jennings led off the sixth by jolting a 2-2 cutter for his eighth homer of the season.
The Orioles haven’t given Hunter much help this season. They have scored two or fewer runs with Hunter pitching in 10 of his past 15 starts.
The Orioles, who stranded 10 base runners Friday, continued to struggle with runners in scoring position. They were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position on the night and are 0 for 22 in their past two games.
— Baltimore Sun