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Showalter weighs options regarding Hunter

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BALTIMORE -- Does embattled closer Tommy Hunter get the ball in the Orioles' next save situation? Manager Buck Showalter wouldn't tip his hand prior to Wednesday's game, but he didn't exactly give the right-hander -- who blew his third save in 14 opportunities on Tuesday night -- a ringing endorsement.

"I don't know yet. We'll see," Showalter said. "I got to figure out some way. I think we lead baseball, and continue to do it, in save situations."

The O's, who are tops in the American League in that category, had won the first 13 games in which Hunter had a save opportunity, with Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Tigers halting that streak. Their ability to still get the 'W' has, to some extent, covered up Hunter's struggles, as he has a 6.60 ERA and has allowed 29 baserunners in 15 innings.

In his first season as closer due to the offseason trade of All-Star Jim Johnson, Hunter's leash figures to be much shorter than Johnson's was, and Showalter agreed that lefty Zach Britton -- who has pitched to a 0.84 ERA -- potentially has the stuff to be a ninth-inning guy. Showalter has also considered going with a closer-by-committee strategy, although he doesn't think that's beneficial in the long run.

"I consider everything," Showalter said of ninth-inning options. "The different between Tommy and Jimmy is Jimmy had a track record. ... There is some unknown about where this will go with Tommy."

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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