Dylan Bundy insists that he’s fine physically. Manager Buck Showalter said Bundy dealt earlier with some mild groin discomfort that he’s told is no longer an issue.
Health may not factor into Bundy’s last three outings, but something is wrong.
Bundy didn’t record an out tonight and surrendered home runs to four of seven batters faced in the Orioles’ 15-7 loss to the Royals before an announced crowd of 10,863 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are 8-27 and have lost 13 of 15 games, 19 of 22 and 21 of 25. They own the worst record in baseball with the Reds winning tonight.
Tonight marked the first time that the Orioles allowed 20 hits or more since May 22, 2017, when the Twins collected 21. They made the score somewhat respectable with solo home runs by Danny Valencia and Caleb Joseph in the eighth and four runs in the ninth.
Bundy became the first Orioles starter to exit a game without an injury or recording an out since Kurt Birkins against the Blue Jays on Sept. 15, 2007 in Toronto. Birkins allowed six runs and six hits before Rob Bell replaced him, followed by Victor Zambrano and Radhames Liz. Roy Halladay started for the Blue Jays in their 8-3 win.
Bundy threw 28 pitches and allowed seven runs, including homers by Jorge Soler, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon, the latter a three-run shot that ended his night.
According to Baseball-Reference Play Index, Bundy and Joe Coleman are the only Orioles starters to allow seven runs or more without an out. Coleman did it on July 6, 1954 against the Indians
Bundy registered a -19 game score tonight, which means about as much as a quarterback rating. But I believe it’s really bad.
“Very similar to his last couple of outings,” Showalter said. “Just elevated and hasn’t been real crisp. Kept waiting for him to get going a little bit and get his feet on the ground and it didn’t happen. Kind of look at some of his history in May, it’s been a challenge for him, so hopefully ...
“He feels good physically. I don’t think there’s been many people I’ve had less of an excuse-maker than Dylan. He never grabs hold of anything other than the mirror in front of him. It’s disappointing for him as much as anything.”
Bundy, with a career 5.04 ERA in 55 1/3 innings in May before tonight, confirmed that he’s not injured.
“Yeah, physically I’m fine. I’m just not executing the pitches I need to right now,” he said. “I was leaving pitches right down the middle and they were hitting them over the fence. Got us in a 7-0 early hole that we couldn’t climb out of.”
Showalter naturally wondered whether Bundy was hurt as balls kept sailing over the fence.
“Of course, when you see somebody that’s that good,” he said. “His shoulder feels good. He had a little groin thing some, but he said that’s fine, not an issue. Like a lot of guys, if I told you every little thing that guys got treated before starts, we’d be in here all day. Guys, bullpen guys, we’re looking at a lot of different things after every game to see if there’s something we need to make an adjustment with. We’ll continue to do that.
“If I didn’t know better, it’s almost like was going through like a spring training dead arm period almost. But his pure velocity or whatever is very similar. It’s just the finish on the pitches and some of the command of things. He’s usually a guy with really good command.”
Mike Wright Jr. replaced Bundy and allowed three more runs in the inning, as the Royals sent 14 batters to the plate.
“Obviously you don’t want to have to pitch close to nine innings, I guess it was nine innings, out of the bullpen, so you’re trying to see if he can get going a little bit and at least give us some length there, but it just didn’t happen,” Showalter said. “Right from the get-go it was a challenge for him.”
But nothing that Showalter fears will become a mental burden for Bundy, who’s surrendered 19 earned runs (22 total) and 23 hits in his last three starts over nine-plus innings.
“No, not at all. No,” he said. “It’s one of his big strengths and I’m sure you’ll see that after you talk to him tonight.”
“We re-gather and see where we are physically with everybody,” Showalter said. “Some of the things we don’t talk about here, see if it’s gotten to be any more of an issue with somebody. I was trying to maneuver around and stay away from (Miguel) Castro tonight so I’ve got some semblance of length tomorrow. I don’t want to get into a game where we’re pitching people that would keep them from pitching in a winning cause the next day.
“Richard hadn’t pitched in three days, he needed to pitch an inning tonight. I was really trying to stay away from Mike (Givens) if I could, even though he had two days off. Mike (Wright) and Pedro, even though it wasn’t statistically a great return, they got us through some innings.
“What did we score, seven, eight runs? I felt like if we could have stemmed the tide there at seven we could have had a chance to get back in the game. (Danny) Duffy has been having uncharacteristically some challenges, but we haven’t been able to get those shutdown innings.”
Or get the team firing on all cylinders. The offense scored two runs over 28 innings in three games before the uprisings in the eighth and ninth. The starters were really good in back-to-back games in Oakland before tonight’s debacle.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about,” Showalter said. “On the positive, we played better defense tonight, we swung the bats well. I think we still left a bunch of people on base or we could have scored more. I’ll take that as a positive against a good pitcher with good stuff. Obviously, we’re going to have to put together the other part of it, too, and that’s pitching when we score those type of runs.”
Another night ended with Showalter asked what can be done to get his team on track.
“We’ve been doing a lot of different things as you well know and trying a lot of different things and we’ll continue to do that until we can get back to some things that we know we’re capable of,” Showalter said. “We’re not just sitting around going, ‘Well, it’s just one of those things you go through.’ We’re grinding every day, everybody, the players especially. And I have confidence that we’ve good people and it will turn at some point.