ShareThis Page
Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter continues to struggle |

Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter continues to struggle

| Monday, November 1, 2010 12:00 a.m

ARLINGTON, Texas Rangers right-hander Tommy Hunter experienced a hard fact of baseball life on Sunday night.

If a pitcher keeps hitting opponents’ bats, something bad will happen to him sooner or later.

For the third consecutive postseason start, Hunter failed to go beyond the fourth inning. That he allowed only two runs in four innings during the 4-0 loss to San Francisco in Game 4 of the World Series was remarkable.

Hunter threw 83 pitches. He missed a bat on only two of them. Hunter got his only swing-and-misses against the last batter faced: No. 9 hitter Nate Schierholtz.

The rest of the time, the Giants hit liners all over Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. San Francisco put the leadoff hitter on base in each of the first three innings. The Giants had six at-bats with runners in scoring position in that span.

Hunter could not finish off hitters. He had two strikes in the count to nine of the 18 hitters faced. Of those nine hitters, only one struck out, and three others reached on base hits. The Giants threw in the extra aggravation of 21 foul balls.

“They battled up there,” Hunter said. “You keep throwing the ball up there and hope they put it in play. When they did, it found a hole.

Andres Torres, the reborn former Ranger, had the most damaging hit with two strikes in the count.

Leading off the third, Torres fell behind 1-2 against Hunter. Torres fouled off three of the next four pitches before doubling.

Freddy Sanchez followed and fouled off five consecutive pitches from a 0-2 count before grounding out on a 1-2 pitch. Hunter, with 17 pitches already thrown in the inning, was spent. He tried to get a first-pitch “cut” fastball in on the hands of Aubrey Huff but lacked the velocity to make a good pitch. It hung high in the happy zone for Huff, who drove it 404 feet for a two-run homer.

Hunter said the long and frustrating matchups with Torres and Sanchez did not affect him against Huff.

“The ball spun up there instead of doing what it was supposed to do,” Hunter said.

In his previous two starts, Hunter had 12 strikeouts in 71/3 innings. Hunter admitted that was more of a mirage. He is not now, never has been and never will be a strikeout pitcher. He depends on the good fortunate of having balls hit at fielders.

“Maybe the last two were a fluke, and this is what it’s supposed to be like,” Hunter said.

In the playoffs, pitchers with swing-and-miss stuff take control. That helps explain why Hunter turned into just what the bullpen-depleted Rangers did not need: a short starter.

In Hunter’s three post-season starts, the bullpen had more innings than he did. Hunter pitched 111/3 innings. The bullpen had to pick up 152/3 innings in his wake.

The Rangers lost two of Hunter’s three postseason starts. They needed 10 runs to get the only win, against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Opponents have hit .320 for 50 at-bats against Hunter.

“It’s been pretty adverse,” Hunter said of his playoff experience. “It’s been tough. When you don’t go out and do what you’re supposed to do, it’s going to be tough.”

It’s harder when the pitcher cannot miss the bats.


Ian Kinsler, the Rangers’ No. 6 hitter, batted as the tying runner with two outs in the seventh inning.


In two previous plate appearances against starter Madison Bumgarner, Kinsler walked and hit a sinking liner that left fielder Cody Ross grabbed on a tumbling shoe-top catch. Giants manager Bruce Bochy stayed with Bumgarner, a left-hander, against Kinsler, a right-handed hitter.


Kinsler again flied out to left, but the chance was not nearly as difficult for Ross. Kinsler is 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position for the Series and 3-for-13 in the postseason.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.