DETROIT – Last year, the questions around Tommy Hunter often revolved around home runs. This year, it’s the lack of the long ball.
Hunter’s conversion from starter to reliever has brought a marked reduction in the home run. Last year, he allowed 32, one every 2.2 innings. This year, he’s given up five, one every 1.2 innings.
He entered Tuesday’s game without having given up a home run in his last 10 appearances. His last came in Toronto on May 24.
“It’s got a lot to do with location, throwing the right pitches at the right time,” Hunter said.
Hunter doesn’t really care about home runs.
“As long as they’re solo shots; you’re going to give up a couple of runs in a big league game. You’re going to give up home runs. It’s part of this game. It’s what everyone wants to see, and it’s what hitters try to do,” Hunter said.
“Try to minimize that and try to keep the damage down.”
He has a few conditions on home runs.
“Pitchers don’t like getting embarrassed,” Hunter said. “It’s something we take pride in. We count it. We know how many bats we’ve shattered.”
Hunter insists he hasn’t changed.
“I’m the exact same guy I was last year,” Hunter said.
“I’m a guy that attacks the zone, throws strikes, and the hitters come up swinging. Maybe it is being more patiently aggressive—being aggressive but being smart about it, not always going harder, taking a little bit off the gas pedal, slowing things down, mixing up pitches and hitting spots…If you throw the right pitch in the right spot with the right conviction, there’s no hitter in baseball that’s going to be able to hit you. “