BOSTON - Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t announce his starter for Tuesday without knowing how Dylan Bundy fared tonight. Without knowing how deep into the game Bundy would pitch and how many times the bullpen phone rang.
As more jackets came off relievers, fewer possibilities existed for Showalter.
Only in a historically bad season can an expanded September roster stretch thin a manager’s patience.
Bundy neared 60 pitches after two innings and hauled a four-run deficit back to the dugout. Left-hander Sean Gilmartin, mentioned as a candidate for Tuesday, began to warm. Donnie Hart started to throw after back-to-back two-out walks in the third. Showalter’s mind sifted through the other options.
Showalter had to bring in Hart after the third inning and the Red Sox never trailed while posting a 6-2 victory at Fenway Park.
Fall was in the air with a gametime temperature of 56 degrees and the Orioles plummeted to 60 1/2 games out of first place, their 111th loss tying the 1939 St. Louis Browns.
Bundy escaped the third inning jam at 90 pitches and he wasn’t coming back out, his career-high 30th start reaching its conclusion. Hart replaced him with the Red Sox ahead 4-0. Bundy allowed five hits, all in the second inning, walked three batters and struck out five.
The season holds one more start for Bundy, whose next turn is Saturday night against the Astros at Camden Yards. One chance to take some of the air out of a 5.49 ERA.
Gilmartin entered the game in the fifth with the Orioles down 6-1, eliminating him from Tuesday’s assignment. He shut out the Red Sox on one hit over four innings to earn a different kind of save.
Back-to-back doubles by Steve Pearce and Brock Holt with one out in the second inning gave Boston the lead and Christian Vázquez followed with an RBI single. Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out, the third Red Sox’s batter to whiff on Bundy’s slider, but Mookie Betts hit a two-run homer over the Green Monster.
Betts accounted for the 39th home run surrendered by Bundy this season, and the right-hander wouldn’t record a third consecutive quality start.
Bundy threw 25 pitches in the first inning while stranding Andrew Benintendi at first base after a one-out walk, stolen base and Caleb Joseph throwing error. Bundy struck out Betts and J.D. Martinez.
The second inning decided the outcome, though the Red Sox padded their lead against Hart in the fourth. Three straight singles plated a run, the last on Benintendi’s low liner that deflected off Steve Wilkerson’s glove. Martinez walked to load the bases and Xander Bogaerts singled to put Boston ahead 6-0.
Joseph turned a 1-2-5 double play as Gilmartin warmed again.
Eovaldi struck out 10 batters in five innings.
Update: Showalter said Jimmy Yacabonis will start Tuesday night, weather permitting.
The forecast is calling for rain all day and a postponement would bring a split-doubleheader Wednesday.
Showalter on importance of Gilmartin: “What do you think? That’s why I went with Donnie first because that was really our two guys tonight. Could have pushed some people I didn’t want to push. Much like Dylan. Dylan wanted to keep pitching, but 90 pitches in three innings, it’s not good anytime of the year. I know he’s frustrated with it, but Sean did a great job in that role.”
Showalter on Tuesday starter: “Yacabonis. As opposed to who? That’s it. I wouldn’t do that to John Means.
“One thing I’ve learned through the years, if you start predicting weather, everybody’s telling me it’s going to rain all day tomorrow, and then you play and say you used Yacabonis tonight and then you don’t have anybody tomorrow. If we get rained out they’re going to play a split doubleheader on Wednesday at 1 and 7, so you’re going to need another starting pitcher there. Ramírez isn’t going to be able to make the start Wednesday, either.”
Showalter on Bundy: “This is going to sound like excuses and everything and I’ve got it. A lot of people in our situation and rightfully so. There’s about six to seven pitches ... The difference between a 3-1 count and a 2-2 count, I mean, 2-1, 1-2.
“Dylan couldn’t catch a break with the borderline pitches. I’m going to be nice when I say borderline. It’s one of those things I’ve learned through the years, go back and take a look at yourself and you end up going, ‘I’d want that pitch,’ or, ‘I wouldn’t want that pitch.’ I thought it was kind of a little one-sided.”
Showalter on Bundy getting another start: “Oh, yeah. He’s fine. I keep hearing stuff about shutting this guy down, shutting that guy down. Dylan wants no part of it. He feels as good as he’s felt all year. And part of pitching up here is pitching in September and pitching in October and playing the season. It’s part of it. Shut down this, shut down (that), I don’t think anybody’s wanting to shut down.
“I tell you what, Sean Gilmartin’s taking an opportunity he’s getting and running with it. Regardless of whether it’s September or August or whatever, those are the things you go home and remember. He’s pitching with a purpose. He’s trying to make a team next year. That’s the way it’s supposed to be this time of year.”
Showalter again on Bundy: “To me, he almost wanted too much. That’s why he got so frustrated with the balls and strikes, too. The ball we threw into center field was center-cut down the middle of the plate. You couldn’t have thrown a ball more down the middle. There’s about six or seven more, that’s what’s frustrating. But they’re a good team, so it’s doubly tough.
“So Dylan he wanted to keep pitching. What are you going to do, let him throw 10 more pitches? Ninety pitches in September in three innings is actually too much. That was his last hitter the inning before.”
Bundy on outing: “It was just that second inning. I couldn’t really limit the damage there and kind of let it get out of control in the second inning.”
Bundy on whether making next start: “Yeah, as far as I know. That’s the last I heard, so just got to keep working on things and get another bullpen in between and hopefully I can figure something out before this next start.”
Bundy on the depleted bullpen: “I know all that stuff going into the start, but you try not to think about any of that and just go out there and pitch your game. That’s what I tried to do and it just didn’t work out tonight.”
Bundy on importance of ending on good note: “I’ve got another start and I plan on making it. I’m just going to prepare like I am and throw my bullpen in between and finish the season with one more.”
Jones on playing left field: “I’ve been in left field before. I’ve been here before. I played left field in my career before, so it’s not anything new, it’s just been a while. First time I got switched to another position, though, left to right. I never had that before because I was always in center.”
Jones on whether it energized him: “I’ve been energized all year. I don’t know. There’s nothing to write about, so you’re trying to find something to write about. I get it. I read you guys. There’s nothing to talk about. I see yours, ‘We lost again.’ I get it. Just trying to find something happy to write about.
“Every day in the big leagues is a happy environment. Opportunity of a lifetime. I know this is not the year. A lot of guys want this to be over with and we can see the finish line, but we have the opportunity of a lifetime to play Major League Baseball. It’s just not going our way this year, but still can’t deny the opportunity that we do have though we have not played well.”
Jones on Gilmartin: “He did great. He had four innings, 60 pitches. ... His last two outings were very good. I think he went multiple innings at home, picking up Evan Phillips last time. He’s been throwing the ball good and that’s good, going forward to next year.”
Jones on oddity of running out of pitchers: “That’s a question you need to ask the people that are talking about the rebuild, not me. That’s a question for somebody in player personnel, not a player.”
Jones on whether he’s getting nostalgic: “Nah. Thirty-three, body still feels good, still feels like there’s a lot of gas in the tank. Some team could use me, I’m sure. I’m glad that I’ve been able to stay a lot healthier this year.
“Me and Buck have had a strategic plan of taking days off. It’s benefiting me now. I feel 10 times better at this point of the season than I did all of last year. It’s good to feel good.
“It’s coming to an end here. The season ends. My contract ends. I’m an optimistic person. You never know what could happen. You always got to keep your options open.”