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Hunter showing consistency in new role as O's closer

Hunter showing consistency in new role as O's closer

MINNEAPOLIS -- So far, so good for Tommy Hunter as the Orioles' closer.

Hunter -- who picked up his eighth save in nine attempts on Friday night -- has pitched in the team's last three games, an encouraging step for the first-time full-time closer.

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"He's -- I don't want to say infancy stage -- but little by little. He's getting it," manager Buck Showalter said. "Tommy pitched last night. I think one thing, talking to [former closer] Jimmy [Johnson], certain days he knew he wasn't carrying his normal stuff because of rest. And he pitched a little more those days.

"Some days, Jimmy could go out there and overpower you with the sinker, but sometimes he had to pitch. And Tommy, he had a crisp fastball last night when he needed it, but he really had to pitch. That was impressive. I thought that was good stuff for him."

Hunter, named the O's closer after the offseason trade of Johnson, has gone 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA in his first 12 games. He has 10 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on 12 hits and two walks (one intentional). With the ninth inning one of the Orioles' greatest concerns coming into the season, Hunter has stepped up in the early part of the season and provided some stability.

"He doesn't get into what his title is," Showalter said earlier this week. "It's a process. I don't think we are far enough into it. He's got a lot of respect for the job and he's seen some good ones do it, whether it be Texas or here. He's presented himself well, all things considered.

"It's a difficult job. And I think he presents some things; I'd use him now, and then as we get into the season for an out in the eighth inning. Tommy takes the right things seriously. He's pretty approachable, very amicable, but when it's time, Tommy knows the job description, he knows what he's got to bring. And the season will tell us if he can do that."

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

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