BOSTON — When one of Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter’s fastballs hit 101 mph on the stadium radar gun in the 11th inning of the O's 9-6 extra-inning win Saturday, it raised some eyebrows in the dugout.
“If that gun's right, he may have found a home," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the 12-inning win.
Hunter said Sunday that he’s reached the high 90s as a starter, but his 1-2-3 inning Saturday was a little different. According to the stadium radar gun, he threw a 101-mph fastball to Dustin Pedroia on an 0-2 count. Seven of his 12 pitches in the inning were 98 mph or higher, according to the official game play by play.
"[I threw] a cutter to [Red Sox leadoff hitter Pedro] Ciriaco, he flew out to right and it was 96 on the board," Hunter said. "And I was like oh, [boy]. Throwing pretty hard.
“For one inning, instead of when you are going six or seven, [it is] totally different than starting as anyone can tell you. Matusz will tell you the same thing. It’s totally different. It’s just different. I don’t know. You throw hard. Everybody usually throws hard out of the ‘pen than they do starting. I hit 97 in a starts in Cleveland, 98 in Cleveland. I don’t understand [why] everyone is sort of shocked.”
Hunter, who was Saturday’s winning pitcher, has strugged as a starter this season, going 4-8 with a 5.71 ERA and allowing 30 homers in 20 starts. He’s pitched remarkably better as a reliever since returning to the Orioles roster in September, throwing seven straight scoreless relief outings over eight innings, allowing just six hits and striking out nine.
“I think it got everybody’s attention in here,” Showalter said of Hunter’s triple-digit reading. “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 change up. We’ve felt like, and he has. ... I don’t know if you remember, the first day we got him in a trade 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.”
Asked whether he believed the Fenway radar gun was a little off, Showalter said: "OK, say it’s off by two, 99 is still pretty good."