FLUSHING, N.Y. - Fans came to Citi Field today to watch a baseball game and a pillow fight broke out.
The starting pitching was on point or the offenses were out of sync again. It’s not as though the Orioles and Mets have been lighting up scoreboards across the country. But dim the sarcasm, because Dylan Bundy and Zach Wheeler were dealing.
Both pitchers carried shutouts through the seventh inning, but the Mets brought in reliever Jeurys Familia in the eighth and the Orioles manufactured the game’s only run for a 1-0 victory and their first series sweep of 2018.
Manny Machado’s fly ball to deep center field scored pinch-runner Craig Gentry, and the Orioles (19-41) earned their second road series win of the season. They’ve recorded nine victories away from home and five have come in New York.
The offense managed only three runs in the two games, but the Orioles won consecutively for the first time since May 24-25.
Brad Brach earned his 10th save of the season and his second in less than 24 hours after Richard Bleier worked a scoreless eighth. Bleier caught Asdrubal Cabrera’s bunt and doubled up Brandon Nimmo at first base after a leadoff single.
Pedro Ávarez pinch-hit for Bundy in the eighth and reached on an infield hit. Gentry stole second base - he leads the club with eight - and took third base on Adam Jones’ single into left field. The Mets chose to pitch to Machado and his fly ball scored Gentry and gave him 49 RBIs.
Bundy and Wheeler each allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings. Bundy had to throw 23 pitches in the seventh while leaving the bases loaded, and he came out of the game with his count at 96.
Kevin Plawecki doubled with two outs, Adrián González was walked intentionally and pinch-hitter Jose Bautista - 0-for-8 with six strikeouts lifetime against Bundy - ran the count full and drew a walk. Amed Rosario struck out on three pitches, two four-seam fastballs and a nasty 81 mph slider.
Cabrera’s leadoff double in the fourth inning was the first hit off Bundy. Wheeler reached on an infield single with two outs in the sixth. Bundy needed only 10 pitches in the fourth, 11 in the fifth and 10 in the sixth
Bundy’s velocity was down early and his fastball gradually climbed to 92-93 mph, but his secondary stuff was effective. The slider was his strikeout pitch again.
Bundy fanned four of the first 10 batters he faced, then none until Rosario went down swinging to end the seventh. His ERA was lowered from 4.46 to 4.04.
Wheeler didn’t post a clean inning until the sixth. Jones singled in the first, Mark Trumbo singled in the second, Trey Mancini was hit by a pitch in the third, Machado walked and Chris Davis singled in the fourth and Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch in the fifth.
Brach recorded the save after allowing a leadoff single to Todd Frazier in the ninth. Gentry cut off the ball in right-center field to prevent a double after replacing Trumbo. Jay Bruce followed with a fly ball to the track in left-center field.
Pitching, defense and a sacrifice fly. Whatever recipe works.
Manager Buck Showalter on Bundy and his 1.08 ERA in six day game starts: “Very similar to the outing he had in Chicago. You could see it early on. We’re going to try to come up with a nickname for him with day games. Roger (McDowell) said maybe ‘Sunny.’ Somebody said, ‘Over Easy.’ There’s a bunch of them going around. Dylan’s a good pitcher, period.
“I thought Craig had a big play in the gap cutting that ball off. Not many people can make that play. And the stolen base, of course. I thought Bobby (Dickerson) made a really nice hold there. A lot of guys get caught up emotionally and send him there. We got a situation we like there with first and third with Manny.”
Showalter on if he wonders why Bundy struggled earlier this year: “No, not at all. Not at all. Every great pitcher has those outings. Good pitchers. I think sometimes people that aren’t there, it’s hard to do. These things are hard to do. So many things have to ... When a starting pitcher has a consistent year they win Cy Youngs. That’s how it goes. Not many of those guys that get into that subject.
“Dylan, that was fun to watch. He had a feel for it. And really impressed with our two rookie catchers the last two days. They were very impressive.”
Showalter on if there’s satisfaction in winning these road games: “I’m not going to over-analyze that we only scored, what, three runs? We’ll take the two wins. We played two crisp ballgames. We did a lot of things that we haven’t been doing that we need to do better and move on to a tough town. We’re going to take some pleasure in winning regardless. It’s always tough to win on the road. We did a lot of little things we haven’t been doing.”
Showalter on whether he senses the rotation getting better: “I hope so. It’s like I said earlier, pitching every fifth day and being the same pitcher every time out is really, really hard to do. Just the sum of the parts as far as the rotation, we’re starting to get a little depth in it now. Not only here, but down below, so down the road I still think this year and next year and years to come it’s got a chance to be strength of ours. And from within.”
Bundy on whether everything was working: “For the most part, yeah. I felt the slider, I was getting under it and around it the first few innings especially. But I had the changeup to go to, especially with a lefty-heavy lineup that they had.”
Bundy on whether pitching here for the first time against unfamiliar team was advantage: “I wouldn’t say advantage. You just try to stick to your strength because you haven’t seen that team before or faced them. You just try to stick to your strengths and the game plan you’ve got before going into the game, you’ve just got to stick to it if you need to. If you don’t, you’ve obviously got to change the game plan up.”
Bundy on his success in day games: “I don’t know. I just try to come into the ballpark with a mindset, ready to go, and go out there and try to do my job the best I can when it’s my day to pitch. It just happens to be five day games, I guess.”
Bundy on differences since his rough stretch: “I’ve tweaked some things in my bullpen and stuff, but as far as pitches-wise, it doesn’t feel much different. Obviously, I was just leaving the ball up against those teams and got roughed up pretty good. I’m just trying to focus and have a good mentality going out there.”
Machado on winning twice on the road: “That’s a good ballclub over there, great pitching. Like I said before, we played great, great baseball this series, did the things that are going to put us on the next level, which was Gentry getting over on the base hit, stealing the bag there. Jonesy getting the big knock, and we were able to put up the run. Even yesterday’s game, it was the same thing.
“We were playing small-ball in the first inning, got a couple knocks, got key knocks and a sacrifice to get the runs in. If we continue to do that, I think this team has changed. We’re a home run-hitting team, everybody knows that, but if we can do that, the home runs will come after that.”
Machado on eighth inning at-bat: “You have a sinkerball pitcher there. You know he’s going to come after you and get that ground ball, so you’re trying to see something up and see something easy to just get one run in. With Jonesy getting that base hit, Gentry was able to be there at third base. It was a huge run for us. We needed it. Obviously, the score dictated it, but this is a big one for us.”
Machado again on road wins: “Awesome. To start a road trip playing against a good team and play great baseball, hopefully we continue doing it. I think the team is looking pretty good. We’re looking positive on things the last two days. Pitching has been throwing well. The bullpen has been coming in, stopping it and giving us the opportunity to come out and do things for us. From an offensive standpoint, we’ve got to keep doing what we did this week. If we do that, we can win a lot more games.”
Machado on playing behind Bundy: “When he’s commanding his pitches, it’s awesome. It’s pretty easy to kind of maneuver the infield and kind of move, dictating to where the pitch is going. It’s fun to watch what he did today. If he does that, I think he can carry this pitching staff and get this pitching staff going where they’re going.
“With (Alex) Cobb, how he threw the ball yesterday, he was doing the same thing, putting the ball where he wanted it, and I think if the pitching staff keeps doing that, I think we could start getting rolling. It’s the same thing as the offensive side of it. We play the little ball, get guys over, get the base hits, don’t always go for the home run ball. Home runs aren’t always going to be there. We’ve got to do the little things that are going to count, and I think they’ve been doing that as well. It’s been fun.”
Brach on road wins: “Anytime you get wins is great. To get the series sweep, as many games as it is, is always good. Hopefully, we can get on a little bit of a roll here, start winning some games, playing some better baseball.”
Brach on whether he knew Bruce’s ball in the ninth was staying in park: “I was hoping. I saw it up and I saw where Joey (Rickard) was on the outfield grass. I figure it was probably going to stay in. I know in Camden that’s probably gone, but sometimes it’s nice to pitch in these bigger ballparks.”