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Mark Townsend

What took so long? Tommy Hunter needs 79 tries to miss a bat

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Texas Rangers pitcher Tommy Hunter(notes) isn't known for his swing-and-miss stuff, striking out only 68 batters in 128 innings during the regular season.

But Hunter took his inability to avoid contact to a new extreme during the Rangers' 4-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night.

It wasn't until Hunter's 79th pitch of the night a first-pitch fastball to Nate Schierholtz(notes) with two outs in the fourth inning that Hunter recorded his first swing and miss of the evening. Two pitches later, Schierholtz would swing over a curve ball, giving Hunter his second and final whiff of the evening.

Maybe the removal of Pat Burrell(notes) from San Francisco's lineup improved everyone else's timing. In total, the Giants made contact on 36 of 38 swings (94 percent) against Hunter.

The biggest swing was Aubrey Huff's(notes) awe-inspiring two-run blast in the third inning, which gave the Giants a 2-0 lead they would never surrender:

"I felt like I had pretty good stuff," Hunter told MLB Network reporter Hazel Mae after the game. "It's kinda at one of those points where you just tip your cap. They fought some good pitches off tonight, and when they put them in play they, you know, they put them in play."

Yes, the Giants did and they do deserve credit for another clutch-hitting performance.

But it's no surprise that they swung so well against Hunter. My own research shows that a solid 90 percent of Hunter's pitches were struck very hard. Also, Hunter owned the fifth-highest contact rate in the AL this year, ranking just behind Nick Blackburn(notes), Doug Fister(notes), Brad Bergesen(notes) and Ryan Rowland-Smith(notes).

If not for a few fine defensive plays, especially this beauty by Josh Hamilton(notes) in the second inning, the methodical, patient and efficient Giants offense would have put Game 4 comfortably out of reach very early.

Not that they ended up needing much breathing room with Madison Bumgarner(notes) turning in the best start so far in this World Series.

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