Dylan Bundy, who was supposed to be the Orioles’ next great hope, made his first Opening Day start Thursday – nearly seven years after the club drafted him to be its future.
At least on Thursday, he looked worth the wait.
In seven innings, the 6-foot-1 right-hander blanked the Minnesota Twins, allowing five hits, striking out seven batters and surrendering only one walk. He threw 64 of his 88 total pitches for strikes.
“Dylan was the key to the game,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the 3-2,11th inning walkoff victory. “Dylan was outstanding.”
Bundy admitted that he left some balls up – the first five batters flew out to either left or right field – but over the course of his start, he made adjustments, which were key when the Orioles’ defense stumbled.
In the 5th inning, Bundy recorded back-to-back strikeouts, stranding Minnesota centerfielder Byron Buxton on second. An inning later, the 225-pound starter induced two ground balls: one that resulted in a 5-4-3 double play and another which ended the sixth.
“Me and Caleb (Joseph), we had a good game plan for the game and we were able to execute,” Bundy said. “I started mixing pitches, got the changeup in the game around the 4th inning.”
He closed out his outing with another pair of strikeouts in the seventh.
Bundy’s performance shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Given his pedigree – the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft – and given it’s the beginning of the season.
Last year, Bundy posted eight straight quality starts within the first two months. He finished with 19 on the year.
So, there’s precedent for him to get it going quickly again in 2018. But Bundy noted he’s only looking forward.
“It’s good to get the season out on the right foot, but all that matters right now is wins,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”