I guess you could be mesmerized by the biting slider or the curve that was dropping off the proverbial table Tuesday night in the Orioles’ 4-0 win against the Seattle Mariners.
I guess you should be thoroughly impressed by the way Orioles’ right-hander Dylan Bundy kept adding and taking off his fastball and locating it up, down, in and out, constantly changing the eye level of the befuddled Mariners’ hitters.
And, sure, it’s fair to think that you just witnessed something truly special at Camden Yards, a 12-strikeout, one-hit, complete game shutout by a 24-year-old kid making just his 39th career big league start.
I’ll give you all of that.
But here’s why I was so impressed with Bundy: He flew into Baltimore early Tuesday morning after being away from the team due to the death of his paternal grandmother. He obviously was dealing with bigger things than a baseball game, and yet there was nothing at Camden Yards last night for Bundy besides catcher Welington Castillo’s glove.
“It’s been hectic, but just taking it in stride, taking it one day at a time,” Bundy said. “And just go out there and pitch when it’s my turn to pitch.”
Clichés aside, Bundy continues to impress me – really everyone – with his maturity and his ability to pummel adversity. Remember this was a can’t miss kid when he was drafted in 2011, debuted in 2012 and then had his baseball world fall apart due to injuries, including elbow surgery. During that time, his mother passed away suddenly, further causing turmoil in his young life.
Yet Bundy kept battling, often leaning on his father and his older brother, Bobby, a minor league pitcher who has also had his share of injuries.
“I don’t think a lot of people have been through what Dylan’s been through. And to battle back through it. Sometimes, you forget that Dylan lost his mother and his grandmother at a young age and sometimes life forces you to grow up,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “This was a guy who was as good a high school prospect as a lot of people ever saw. And then, all of a sudden, that’s taken away from you with elbow surgery, and you’ve got to make some decisions whether you’re going to push through it. Sometimes, it makes us a lot stronger when you get through those things.”
You don’t get excuses from Bundy. When he doesn’t pitch well, he owns it. And moves on. So, when he pitched arguably one of the best games in Orioles’ history – the first individual one-hitter since Jason Hammel in 2012 and the only one-hit shutout with 12 or more strikeouts besides Mike Mussina’s in 2000 – he kind of shrugs that off, too.
“It means a lot, mainly just to go out there,” Bundy said. “But me and (Castillo) had a great game plan again, behind the plate, and then of course, the defense was outstanding.”
Bundy’s shot at a no-hitter disappeared in the fourth inning when Kyle Seager bunted and Bundy couldn’t field it cleanly. So, a chance at history fell apart on a bunt single.
“No, it doesn’t matter (that it was a bunt),” Bundy said. “They are trying to win games, too. So that’s fine.”
Bundy’s even nature doesn’t make for the most exciting quotes.
But it provides him with a certain resolve that has allowed him to keep pushing on, whether it’s in the ninth inning for his first complete game shutout or simply to go out to the mound and focus with a heavy heart.
“He flew in late last night and landed about midnight. Had to work through the (32-minute) rain delay, too,” Showalter said. “There were a lot of things that could have been a challenge for him and he doesn’t let it be. He’s so strong mentally.”
So, yeah, that’s what impresses me the most about Dylan Bundy.