Hunter & O's Close Series With Holland, Rangers
By: Willie Bee
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Tommy Hunter enjoyed a lot of success at Rangers Ballpark early in his career. A 1st-round pick out of Alabama by Texas in 2007, he climbed through the minors quickly and posted a 14-4 record with a 3.57 ERA off this mound working primarily as a starting pitcher from 2008-11.
One thing Hunter never did in this stadium, however, was pitch the bottom of the first inning. That's something he will experience for the first time Wednesday night when he gets the call for the Baltimore Orioles in their series finale against the Rangers.
Derek Holland, a former minor and major league teammate of Hunter's, will oppose him in the 8:05 p.m. (ET) start. Early bird odds made the Rangers $1.90 favorites with a 10½-run total priced to the 'under.'
Wednesday's duel is a rematch from the second game of a doubleheader played in Baltimore earlier this season, a 7-3 decision in Holland's favor with Texas priced at -170 for that clash. Holland allowed three unearned runs in his six innings of work while Hunter was touched for four runs in six frames to suffer the defeat.
Holland has yet to decision this month with Texas 2-1 in his three assignments. It has been a trying season overall for the southpaw who has endured four outings since the all-star break in which he allowed at least five runs. He cruised through five scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium about a week ago before getting chased in the sixth when New York tallied five before he could finish the frame. Texas' offense bailed him out with six late runs in a 10-6 triumph.
Home has not be so sweet for Holland who owns a bloated 5.60 ERA at Rangers Ballpark with Texas 4-6 in his 10 assignments. He did have a nice showing in the Lone Star State his last time on this mound, working into the eighth against a strong Tigers lineup and allowing just a run while striking out nine.
Hunter hasn't won a game since his first start of the second half, and the O's have dropped four of his last five assignments. We noted when he was about to take on Justin Verlander and Detroit last week that the long ball has long been Hunter's downfall, and he surrendered two more clouts to the Tigers in their 5-3 win to bring his total to 29 HR in less than 120 innings this year. Hunter didn't figure into the decision after allowing three runs in his six innings.
Neither club is reporting any new injuries in the past week or so. Baltimore expects to get 3B Wilson Betemit (wrist) back from the disabled list in about a week, but he could be relegated more to a DH role when he does return with rookie Manny Machado having taken over the hot corner with some encouraging results.
Texas has gone nearly two weeks without the services of C-DH Mike Napoli (quad). He's eligible to come off the DL this weekend, but will likely remain out until next week at the earliest.
This series opened Monday when Texas scored a 5-1 victory as a $1.70 favorite. Tuesday's middle game of the set was still in progress and featured a mound duel between Baltimore's Chris Tillman and Scott Feldman of the Rangers who were even heavier chalk at -180.
Monday's victory was the fourth straight at home in the series for Texas and gave the Rangers four wins in the first five contests between the club this season. Dating back to April 2011, Texas had won nine of 10 from the O's.