You knew Saturday wasn’t going to be good for the Orioles when right-hander Dylan Bundy gave up three runs in the first inning.
He had given up three runs total in the first inning of his previous 16 starts combined.
Bundy matched that by the fifth batter of the game – a contest that was delayed for an hour and 12 minutes before the first pitch due to rain and lasted an additional three hours and 23 minutes before it was mercifully ended.
The 10-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays included a strange outing for Bundy. After his first-inning hiccup, he struck out five straight, suddenly looking unhittable. He retired seven in a row total and then he gave up consecutive home runs in the third inning.
“Long ball got me in trouble today, obviously,” Bundy said. “I mean, just pitches right down the middle or pitches that were up in the zone and they were able to hammer today.”
Bundy lasted just four innings – his shortest stint of the season. He yielded five runs, his third highest total of the year. And surrendered three homers – all bombs – the most he’s given up in 2017. The three homers tied a career high allowed by Bundy, first set last July against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles best starter this year has now allowed 18 earned runs in his last 20 1/3 innings (7.97 ERA) spanning four starts. He has two quality starts in his last six outings after registering 10 in his first 11.
The obvious question is whether Bundy, who threw a career-high 109 2/3 innings last year, is somewhat gassed after logging 103 innings so far in the first half.
The Orioles certainly are cognizant of his workload. They gave him six days rest in between his last start and this one instead of the customary four.
And Orioles manager Buck Showalter thinks Bundy may have been the opposite of tired on Saturday.
“I thought he was going to get on the horse there after the second inning. He came out and pitched well, but he elevated some balls that he doesn’t usually elevate,” Showalter said. “Probably a little strong early on and it looked like he was going to be able to corral it. But they’re doing a lot of things right, right now.”
Bundy was asked about Showalter’s theory that the rest may have inadvertently elevated his pitches.
“There are all kinds of variables that could have went into that, but I felt great out there and that’s the main thing,” Bundy said. “I felt good. I was executing pitches and then left a few pitches up and that’s what they’ll do up here. Hammer them.”
Bundy is scheduled to make one final start in the first half Thursday at Minnesota. He then is not expected to pitch again until the Orioles’ fifth game after the All-Star Break, July 18 versus the Texas Rangers at home.
That will give the 24-year-old, in his second full season in the majors, 11 days between starts.
It’s a way to give him a breather, limit his innings and hope for the same guy in July that succeeded in April and May.
“There’s always a reason things happen. (Fatigue) could always play a part in (Bundy’s recent struggles),” Showalter said. “He’s pitched more innings than this in his career. I’m going to give Tampa the credit. They’re doing a lot of things right. They’re clicking. I know Dylan. He usually rights the ship.”
No Warehouse robbery
When Tampa Bay’s Logan Morrison hit his second home run on Saturday afternoon, several questions followed.
Did it reach Eutaw Street? Did a fan catch it on the fly? Would Morrison get a bronze marker even though the ball never hit the ground? If the fan would have let it go, might it have become the first blast in Camden Yards history to smack the B&O Warehouse on the fly?
Well, I’m here to answer your questions. Actually, I just asked the questions; they were answered by one of the fan-assistance ushers who is assigned to Eutaw Street behind the right-field flag court.
So, yes, a fan caught Morrison’s homer while standing on Eutaw Street. It was a nice, running grab. The blast will still receive a marker – a temporary one for now, which will be replaced by a bronze baseball plaque after the season. The usher standing on Eutaw estimated the ball would have landed about five more feet beyond where the fan caught it, based on eyeballing the trajectory. It’ll be listed in the Orioles’ books at 410 feet.
I was told that it wasn’t the first time a baseball headed onto Eutaw Street initially failed to hit the ground. At times, balls have actually struck fans strolling through the area. The Orioles’ staff attempts to offer the best estimate based on where the ball would have landed if not impeded. And that brings us to Morrison’s clout. If it hadn’t been corralled by a fan’s leather, it would have missed the Warehouse wall by 20 feet or so.
Therefore, history is preserved. No one has hit the wall on the fly in a game in 25 years of the park. Carry on.
Getting healthier — soon
The Orioles are back to two games under .500, and it’s understandable that there are murmurings the club should focus on the distant future and not this season.
But, certainly, the Orioles want to see what happens when they get a couple key cogs back this month. Closer Zach Britton (left forearm) has one more injury rehab game – Monday at Norfolk – and then will join the club in Milwaukee, where he is expected to be activated Wednesday.
Britton’s presence will allow the Orioles to push Brad Brach back to a set-up role and strengthen the overall bullpen. That can only be a plus, though the Orioles will have to make room on their 40-man roster for Britton. There seems to be several candidates that could be removed from the 40-man with little consternation.
The Orioles are also hoping first baseman Chris Davis (oblique) can return in the near future. He’ll throw Monday, and if that goes well, will ramp up his baseball activities, which presumably will mean swinging a bat.
The hope is that Davis can be back by the start of the second half, July 14 – though he’d like it to be sooner.
Regardless, the Orioles will have a little bit of time to re-evaluate where they stand before July 31’s nonwaiver trade deadline.
Catonsville’s Kolarek pitches at Camden Yards
Adam Kolarek, the Tampa Bay Rays’ 28-year-old lefty who made his major league debut Thursday at the Pittsburgh Pirates, had a chance to pitch the ninth Saturday at Camden Yards – the place he grew up watching baseball.
It didn’t start out particularly smoothly.
The Catonsville High and University of Maryland product walked the Orioles first batter. Welington Castillo, on four pitches. He them induced a double-play grounder, but second baseman Taylor Featherston dropped the exchange, and both runners were safe.
But all ended well for Kolarek. He induced a shallow fly to right and then a Joey Rickard double play ball to finish off his hometown team.
Pretty cool moment for a guy who has persevered in order to realize his dream of playing in the majors.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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