MILWAUKEE — Catcher Nick Hundley isn’t some nervous rookie with nubs for fingernails and a stomach that does somersaults when there’s a pressure situation before him.
Hundley, 30, has been in the major leagues for parts of seven seasons, though he had only played for the San Diego Padres until Monday, when he started behind the plate for the Orioles in their thrilling 7-6 comeback victory in 10 innings over the Milwaukee Brewers.
With a wry smile after the game, Hundley admitted that in the first inning he had a flash of that rookie angst when he crouched and began receiving pitches from Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman.
“My first at-bat and first inning catching felt like it was the first game I ever played,” said Hundley, whom the Orioles acquired Saturday in a trade with the Padres for left-handed reliever Troy Patton. “It felt like my debut. It was awesome to feel that. And then get rid of it.”
Hundley got rid of it all right. That sensation was replaced in the bottom of the ninth inning with dread, with the sense that he had just cost his new teammates a game with a wild throw to first base on an attempted sacrifice bunt that put runners at second and third with one out.
All the Brewers needed was a base hit — even a sacrifice fly — by Mark Reynolds and that would be it. The game would be over, and Hundley would be the goat two days after he was acquired to be a stabilizing veteran influence.
But Orioles reliever Darren O’Day got Reynolds to hit a liner to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who immediately threw to third base to double up pinch runner Elian Herrera. It sent the game into extra innings, in which the Orioles are 5-1 this year.
“Roller coaster a little bit in the end,” Hundley said. “Obviously, you’d be talking to me for a different reason if Darren and J.J. didn’t pick me up there.”
Rookie Jonathan Schoop had his first multihomer game — taking starter Kyle Lohse deep in the seventh and then bringing the Orioles (26-23) within one run in the ninth on a solo shot off former Orioles righty Francisco Rodriguez.
Baltimore rallied after a second consecutive rough outing by Tillman, who gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks in 52 / 3 innings. He also allowed six runs in a one-inning clunker on Wednesday.
This was not the day for Tillman’s redemption, however. That was reserved for Hundley, the newest Orioles player, who now has one error, one single and one game-winner on his Baltimore résumé.
“[Hundley] said something about that in the training room a minute ago, that he had to make up for his error,” Hardy said after the game. “And he sure did.”
— Baltimore Sun