BRADENTON, Fla. - The spring stats meant nothing to manager Buck Showalter. The runs and hits allowed by Dylan Bundy didn’t reflect his readiness to break camp.
Improvement today? For Showalter, Bundy has always been on his game. The numbers just didn’t support it.
Bundy today became the first Orioles starter to go five innings this spring. He allowed one run and seven hits, walked none and struck out five. He was done after 84 pitches.
Bundy had surrendered 10 runs and 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings in his first two starts. He threw a simulated game before today’s assignment.
“I don’t know about ‘better,’” Showalter said following an 8-5 win over the Pirates at LECOM Park. “I thought he continues to have a good spring. He’s just been solid. Go gets some more velocity when he needs it. All of his pitches were available to him today. He’s had a feel for all of them.
“In those first two innings a lot of pitchers would have given up three, four, five runs. He gave up one. Dylan’s been so ... those are strides he’s made. He’s always been like that where he can limit the damage.
“Mike (Wright) did a little bit of the same thing, too. It’s tough. You’ve been starting and all of a sudden you’re going to start but it’s going to be in the seventh inning.”
Wright retired the side in order in the last two frames after being charged with two runs in the seventh. Third baseman Drew Dosch couldn’t backhand a hard bouncer from Jose Osuna that otherwise would have spared Wright the two runs.
The last seven batters were retired by Wright, who’s trying to win a job at the back end of the rotation.
“I understand that most of the (major league) hitters were out of the game after that, too,” Showalter said. “I try to keep it all in mind, but Mike’s last two innings were solid. That would have played against anybody. He’s got to be able to do what Dylan did and he did it.
“You’re going to give up some runs in the American League and the American League East. It’s just limit the damage and keep us in the game, don’t let it get away from you and (force) us to go to the bullpen in the second or third inning.
“I see a lot more potential for that to be there. There’s still another level when they put the third deck on there, but Mike understands that. It’s like, ‘How do you care less?’ You shouldn’t. It’s just being able to stay in the moment. He had a couple of times there where he went 2-0 and you saw him back off the mound and get back up there gather himself and throw a quality strike.”
Brad Brach allowed two runs in the sixth, striking out two batters.
“Brad, a little spring training sore arm,” Showalter said. “That’s the first time he hasn’t been real sharp.”
Andrew Susac caught seven innings and threw out a runner trying to steal, almost picked off a runner at third base and was twice hit by pitches. That’s a full day.
Sharlon Schoop pinch-ran for older brother Jonathan in the seventh after a walk.
“I said, ‘Jon, you’ve got a lot of pressure on you here now. You’ve got to get on base here, so we can get Schoop for Schoop,’” Showalter said. “I was thinking about doing it when he hit the home run and I said, ‘Jon, that’s not what I’m talking about.’ He said, ‘He could have run for me from home plate.’ I said, ‘No, Jon.’ That was fun.”
The Orioles improved to 10-8-1 and travel to Fort Myers on Tuesday to play the Twins, who reportedly will start newly signed Lance Lynn instead of Jake Odorizzi.