The bats looked good in Toronto, so did Dylan Bundy in Frederick

That escalated quickly.

I'm talking about the Orioles' offense. Now the runs are coming in bunches. They were coming in a slow trickle.

Through the first 16 games out of the All-Star break, the Orioles were batting just .202 and scoring 3.3 runs per game. Going into Monday's game at Washington, they had scored 10 runs in five games. Now, they have 16 in their last two games.

In the Seattle series, the Orioles scored six runs on 21 hits in three games. Over the last two nights, they scored 16 runs on 28 hits and hit five homers.

They have a five-game lead atop the American League East, their biggest division lead since 1997. Don't bother to pinch yourself. It's all true.

Caleb Joseph is 5-for-11 his last three games with a double, three homers and five RBIs. Nelson Cruz drove in two runs last night to match his RBIs total from his previous 21 games.

The Orioles have the majors' best road record since May 31 at 19-8. They are now 16-7 in AL East road games.

Things seem to be humming along in Birdland these days.

bundy winding up spring training sidebar.jpgWhile many of you were watching the O's bash the Jays last night, I was watching Dylan Bundy pitch well and the Frederick Keys win at Harry Grove Stadium - after waiting out two rain delays by the way.

On July 16, Bundy gave up six runs against Salem and had an ERA of 9.26 after his first three starts for Single-A Frederick. Since then, he's allowed just two runs in 14 2/3 innings for an ERA of 1.23 his past three starts.

It had to be strange for Bundy, the O's top pitching prospect, to see himself with an ERA over 9.00, coming off surgery or not.

"Definitely different," he said after pitching 4 1/3 scoreless frames last night. "But then again, I took a full year off of pitching and it's kind of like you have to learn how to do it again.

"Just getting in rhythm with your mechanics and being able to repeat the same delivery pitch after pitch. That is what I'm really working on, being able to repeat the same delivery every day, every pitch."

Did those rocky earlier outings test his confidence?

"Not at all," he said. "Sometimes you are going to get hit like that. I'm actually happy now that it has happened. Now I know how to deal with it more in the future. You learn through every outing.

"Each time you go out, you learn something new and take away a positive from the outing instead of taking away all the negatives. I'm learning and getting better, that's the goal."

Yeah, I'm trying to remind myself he's just 21, too. He's a mature young guy that understands exactly what he's going through and that it will take some time.

Even though he's pitching better now, I hope the talk about Bundy pitching for the Orioles this year subsides. It's time to let this kid continue his rehab year and it's probably not a bad idea if the Orioles just let him finish out the minor league season with Frederick.

It was never completely realistic to talk about Bundy impacting the Orioles this year. He needs time and innings to get his stuff and his velocity back.

His fastball seemed to take a step forward last night, touching 96 on one pitch. He just needs more consistent command like he had last night.

It was a good night for Bundy on the comeback trail. But I say let him stay on that trail for now.

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