Orioles’ right-hander Dylan Bundy couldn’t get out of the fifth Monday night, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in an eventual loss to the Boston Red Sox, 10-8, in 11 innings.
Pitching on five days’ rest, Bundy retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, gave up a run in the fourth inning and then fell apart in the fifth, allowing four singles and a walk to Boston’s first six batters before being pulled by manager Buck Showalter.
The Orioles’ bullpen permitted Bundy’s inherited runners to score; he was charged with six earned runs, his most since allowing seven on July 23 versus Houston — his career high.
Monday’s performance begs the question: Should the Orioles shut down their 24-year-old prized starter?
Showalter says not yet.
“No, I don’t think we’re at that point yet. Stuff’s fine, he feels great between starts, he’s getting extra days’ rest,” Showalter said. “As long as we think it’s beneficial for him and the club, then we’ll continue down that path. But we’re not at that point yet.”
The conventional wisdom says it’s probably time to call it a season for Bundy. I’m not sure what is gained by continuing to pitch him in these final two weeks.
Is Bundy tired? Hard to tell. He’s certainly not going to say he is. That’s not his style. And that’s not what big leaguers do. Fatigue may be setting in, but he’s not giving in to it.
“I mean, (fatigue) could, yeah. But it doesn’t matter. It’s September. Everybody is tired right now,” Bundy said. “So, you’ve just got to battle through it and work on it in my next bullpen and get ready for the next one.”
Bundy has thrown nearly 170 innings this year – 169 2/3 to be exact – after throwing 109 2/3 last year and 169 2/3 as a pro in parts of three seasons before that.
We all know Bundy’s injury history in the minors, and that he’s been healthy for each of these past two seasons in the big leagues.
The Orioles obviously want to keep him that way. He may be the most important piece for the club in 2018, given the organization’s scarcity of quality rotation arms.
A jump of 60 innings from one season to the next seems plenty, and, no matter the company line, the Orioles aren’t playing for the postseason anymore.
He’ll likely get one more start against Tampa Bay at home this weekend. Then we’ll ask the question again — whether he’s done for the year or he’ll pitch in the final series at Tampa Bay.
To me, ending his season now, after his 28th start, with a 13-9 record and 4.24 ERA, is plenty good enough.
Bundy, though, just shrugs his big shoulders when asked about the rest of this month.
“I mean, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’ll just be ready to throw when it’s my next day to throw and throw my bullpen in between and be ready for the next game.”
Hays’ hustle is impressive
Showalter always tells us not to be fooled by September performances. I get it. But it’s hard not to be impressed with rookie outfielder Austin Hays, and how hard he busts it up the line.
In the second inning Monday, Hays singled up the middle and the ball caromed off second base and into shallow left center. In an eyelash, Hays was on second. Great instincts as well as hustle.
In the fifth, Hays hit a ball to third that Rafael Devers butchered, and Hays kept running, making it to second base when the ball slipped into left.
In the eighth, Hays hit a bouncer to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who strangely tried to grab it barehanded. Bogaerts missed, the ball went into left and, you guessed it, Hays didn’t stop running and made it to second again. It was ruled a single and an error on Bogaerts, allowing Hays to take the extra base.
But what allowed Hays to get to second was that hustle out of the box that’s becoming his trademark already.
“I really like that he’s anticipating taking an extra base,” Showalter said. “But he’s played under control pretty well with that. It’s not a reckless aggressiveness so far.”
Farrell doesn’t pass judgment on Judge walk
In the bottom of the ninth in Yankee Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Showalter made an interesting call: Having closer Zach Britton intentionally walk rookie slugger Aaron Judge to get to another slugger, catcher Gary Sanchez, with a runner on third and two outs in a 6-4 game.
It put the tying run – in Judge – on base. Britton, who said afterward he was hoping to face Judge, struck out Sanchez on five pitches to earn the save and make Showalter’s unconventional decision pay off.
On Monday, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked what he thought of Showalter’s decision. It was an interesting answer. He didn’t support or criticize, but said he completely understood it. And it was gutsy.
“Hopefully we’re not in that situation (choosing between Judge and Sanchez with a game on the line),” Farrell said. “But I can understand the move. Judge has had a lot of success. I’m sure at the moment it felt like the better matchup was with Sanchez. I tell you what, it takes a lot of fortitude to make that move in that moment. And you know what? You give (Showalter) credit for the way it worked out.”
Showalter, as he likes to say about his young players, ain’t scared.
Sad news from the Dominican
There have been far too many reports of ballplayers dying in car accidents in the Dominican Republic in the past few years. Kansas City Royals’ pitcher Yordano Ventura was the highest profile casualty, dying this January, days before former big leaguer Andy Marte was killed in a separate accident (St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Oscar Taveras died in a crash there in 2014).
Now, the extended Orioles’ family has suffered a similar loss. The club announced Monday that 21-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, who had pitched three seasons for the Orioles’ Dominican Summer League team, died after injuries from an accident in his home country Saturday.
Gonzalez, who would have turned 22 later this month, was 1-9 with a 7.65 ERA in 38 games (13 starts, three seasons) all for the DSL Orioles since 2015.
The Orioles held a moment of silence for Gonzalez before Monday’s game.