Hunter, McFarland give bullpen a boost

Hunter, McFarland give bullpen a boost

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Orioles closer Jim Johnson set an Orioles record on Friday night by converting his 35th consecutive regular-season save, there were some pretty impressive bullpen performances before him.

Tommy Hunter and T.J. McFarland combined to throw five scoreless innings, holding the Twins in check to allow the offense time to score nine unanswered runs and pull off the 9-6 victory.

Hunter went 2 1/3 innings, retiring all seven batters he faced to run his scoreless streak to 14 2/3 innings.

"He got a breaking-ball strikeout with [Aaron] Hicks," manager Buck Showalter said of Hunter, who hasn't allowed a run in his last nine outings. "He established the breaking ball to [Josh] Willingham, which allowed him to get him with a fastball. I think understanding, 'Sometimes I've got to pitch,' instead of just, 'See how hard I can throw,' he's capable of doing that."

Hunter followed McFarland, who entered the game in the fifth inning after Trevor Plouffe's double ended starter Jason Hammel's night. On for his first career back-to-back outing, the Rule 5 Draft pick allowed an inherited run to score, but held firm after that in an impressive 39-pitch outing, allowing two hits with a walk and a strikeout in 2 2/3 innings.

"I'm impressed with how he's handled it," Showalter said. "I have every reason to believe he's going to tell us he's ready to pitch today. I really like the way he's fit in with his teammates, too. They like the way he's handled himself here."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.