It was an odd outing Monday for Dylan Bundy – three innings without allowing a hit. And then parts of two in which he couldn’t do much right.
Ultimately, the result was two homers and five runs allowed in four innings in a 7-4 loss to the New York Yankees, who moved to 4 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles in the AL Wild Card race.
The five runs were the most Bundy has allowed since giving up seven versus Houston on July 23. The four-plus innings pitched is his shortest outing since lasting four in a loss to Tampa Bay on July 1.
Bundy said after the game that the beginning of his outing was deceptive. He felt like he struggled with his command all afternoon.
“The whole game really. I felt the first couple innings I was getting away with stuff and missing my spots and they were hitting the ball right to people,” Bundy said. “That’s the type of lineup over there. They don’t swing at too many pitches that are borderline pitches and they fouled off the good ones. Tough team.”
Bundy struck out four of the first eight batters he faced and retired nine of the initial 11. But, in the fourth, five of the Yankees first six batters reached base, paced by Didi Gregorius’ two-run homer. Bundy allowed three total runs in that inning and then two more in the fifth – on a Starlin Castro homer — before Orioles manager Buck Showalter summoned reliever Miguel Castro.
“Just one of those days. First couple innings were OK. Just couldn’t find his command,” Showalter said. “I don’t care who you’re facing. They’re a pretty patient team when they see that. Whether it’s them or someone else, they see you’re having a little trouble commanding the ball, then they get real patient.”
Bundy did strike out five in four innings, but he also walked four, which ties his career high (for the seventh time).
Each time Bundy has one of these outings, it’s fairly easy to dismiss. Because he has been so much more consistent than any other member of the 2017 rotation. And because he is only 24 and in his first full season as a starter.
This one stung a little bit, though, because the Orioles’ bullpen has been used a whole lot recently.
In the four-game series against Toronto – which included two extra-inning victories – the bullpen threw 22 1/3 innings. There were 15 relief appearances in that four-game span. Four relievers combined for five innings Monday.
“You never feel like you need to (pitch deep). You just expect to,” Bundy said. “It’s your goal as a starter to go at least six, seven innings and give your team a chance to win and just keep your team involved in the game.”
The Orioles have had an expanded roster since Friday and that has allowed the bullpen to absorb some of those innings. But Showalter said he had to stay away from several relievers Monday, so Castro was joined by three recent call-ups, Donnie Hart Richard Rodriguez and Gabriel Ynoa, to pitch five combined innings.
“I had like three or four guys I wasn’t going use today,” Showalter said. “We had to do that to win the previous game (in 12 innings Sunday). Everything is effect-counter-effect.”
A bullpen respite would have been welcomed. And, frankly, that has become somewhat of an expectation when Bundy pitches. He has gone at least six innings in his previous five starts, including a complete-game, one-hit shutout in his last outing Aug. 29.
Bundy threw 116 pitches in that game. He had an extra day rest before Monday’s outing, and said he wasn’t gassed by the fourth, when he threw 37 pitches.
“I didn’t feel fatigued or anything. I felt like stuff-wise was good. Ball was coming out all right, body felt great,” Bundy said. “Stuff-wise was fine. It was just really command and location of my pitches today.”