Dylan Bundy returned to his early-season form and that was a welcome sight tonight for the Orioles and their fans. He pitched the Orioles past Oakland 5-3 as they avoided getting swept in three straight and snapped a six-game losing streak.
Bundy recorded his first quality start since Aug. 4 and his first win since July 29. His slider had its sharp, late break back and he recorded 16 swings and misses, 12 on the slider. That is his most in a start since he got 20 swinging strikes on May 24.
Over six innings, Bundy allowed six hits and two runs with no walks and eight strikeouts. Seven of his eight strikeouts came via a slider and Bundy used that pitch 30 times tonight. He improved to 8-14 and lowered his ERA from 5.58 to 5.48.
Bundy had really struggled in recent outings. He recorded an ERA of 10.67, had yielded 10 homers in his last six starts and didn’t throw more than 5 1/3 innings in any of those games. In 11 starts since July 6, he was 1-7 with an ERA of 8.83, allowing 19 homers in 54 innings. Bundy’s ERA has risen nearly two runs since it was 3.75 at the end of June.
But with his slider solid again and improved command, he looked in control from the outset when he needed just 10 pitches in a 1-2-3 first.
There were some shaky moments late in the game tonight for the Orioles. Down 4-2, the A’s pulled within 4-3 in the eighth when left-hander Paul Fry issued back-to-back walks, the last with the bases loaded. But right-hander Mychal Givens came on and got a strikeout and flyout to strand three and keep the Orioles ahead. It was an impressive performance by Givens. He then pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth to nail down his seventh save.
After the Orioles provided Bundy a 2-0 lead in the first, Oakland’s Stephen Piscotty hit a solo homer to right in the second. It was his 24th, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. It was a major league-leading 38th off the O’s right-hander.
Leading 4-1 in the fifth, Oakland pulled within two runs on a one out double by Marcus Semien and the RBI single that followed off the bat of Nick Martini. But Miguel Castro replaced Bundy in the seventh and the O’s held the A’s to one more run while ending their six-game winning streak.
Tim Beckham, who was the designated hitter tonight, singled in two runs in the Baltimore first. With one swing he matched the total runs the club had scored in the first two games of this series. His single to center scored Cedric Mullins, who reached on a swinging bunt, and Jonathan Villar, who reached on an actual bunt. After being held to one hit last night, the O’s had three hits in the first tonight.
The Orioles put together four singles off losing pitcher Brett Anderson in the last of the fourth. The hits came via Trey Mancini, Renato Núñez, John Andreoli and Breyvic Valera, with the last two driving in runs three and four.
The Orioles got a big insurance run in the eighth for a 5-3 edge. Jace Peterson’s RBI double to left scored Beckham after he singled for his second hit of the night.
The Orioles (42-104) won for just the second time in the last 12 games. Coming into tonight, they were 0-5 versus Oakland and overall had lost 18 of 22 and 25 of the last 31. The Orioles host the Chicago White Sox on Friday night to start a three-game series as the homestand continues.
Bundy on the difference tonight: “Really just thought the conviction on all the pitches tonight. I think that made them a little more sharper. Slider, curveball were all playing tonight to that right-handed lineup they had.”
Conviction meaning believing in the pitch you were throwing?: “Belief. Just believing in myself and that certain pitch every single pitch for however many pitches I threw. Knowing that pitch you’re calling and the one you are going to throw to that batter is the right pitch every time.”
Bundy on his slider being so good: “I was just trying to speed it up a little bit. Sometimes I’ll get on the side of it and not really on top and behind the baseball. So just tried to make it a little tighter tonight and the results were better for sure.”
Was tonight different and better from the start?: “Yeah, a lot different. I had a clue where it was going tonight. Just the conviction in a pitch and believe in yourself that is the right pitch was the biggest thing tonight.”
Breyvic Valera via interpreter Ramón Alarcón on great catch in the ninth: “So many things going through my mind. Last inning, winning by two, man on first. I was thinking of making one out, just to be sure to make one out and try to make a second out. My mentality was to go get it, catch that ball and make one out, and thankfully I was able to get to that ball.”
Valera on trying to impress the coaches: “Opportunities are so hard to get at the big league level, so whenever there is an opportunity, I try to make the most of it. Try to take advantage of the situation and the trust that the team puts in me. Make a play, help the team. So that is what is going through my mind and I was able to do that today.”