SARASOTA, Fla. - Cedric Mullins collected his sixth hit of spring training tonight while leading off the bottom of the first inning.
His fifth for extra bases and third home run. And the odd count would continue.
Mullins also reached on a bunt single and doubled for his most productive game of the spring, his average climbing to .186.
Always at his most dangerous from the left side, Mullins pulled a two-strike off-speed pitch from Red Sox starter Rick Porcello down the right field line to give the Orioles a quick lead.
The home run left Mullins 6-for-41 this spring, including two doubles, and he showed off his offensive range by reaching on a bunt single to the left side in the third inning and lining a double to center field in the sixth.
An updated count shows Mullins with eight hits this spring and six are for extra bases.
Mullins remains the favorite to start in center field on opening day with Austin Hays optioned. Past success in the minors and good spurts after his promotion seem to weigh heavily in the decision.
Meanwhile, any concerns about Dylan Bundy’s spring were softened by his outing against the Red Sox. He became the first Orioles pitch to go more than five innings, retiring the only batter he faced in the sixth on a fly ball.
Bundy allowed one run and five hits with no walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He threw 68 pitches and 48 were strikes.
“Overall, all the pitches tonight I thought I was executing a lot better,” he said. “Not one in particular, but all of them in general I felt good with tonight. Just executing where I wanted the ball more.”
Left-hander Richard Bleier entered the game and Bundy took his place in the bullpen, continuing to throw and increasing his pitch count.
“I was able to throw 10 or 11 more in the bullpen to get up to 80,” he said, adding that he wants to build to 85-90 in his next start before opening day.
Bundy didn’t allow a run over the first two innings, retiring the side in order in the second on only eight pitches, but got into a major jam in the third by loading the bases with no outs on three singles.
An implosion didn’t materialize. Eduardo Núñez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to tie the game and Rafael Devers struck out on Bundy’s 24th pitch of the inning.
Success also can be measured in damage control.
“Bases loaded, no outs is a tough one,” he said, smiling. “Get the double play, though, and get out of the inning with just one run, so just limit the damage as much as you can, especially with no outs.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. singled with two outs in the fourth and Jesús Sucre threw him out trying to steal. A 12-pitch inning left Bundy at 57 and poised to come back out for the fifth.
A nine-pitch fifth opened the door for Bundy in the sixth while Bleier kept warming. Andrew Benintendi flied to right field after singling in his first two trips and manager Brandon Hyde made the change.
Bundy had allowed 14 runs and 22 hits in 11 2/3 innings before tonight. He’s now feeling “pretty close” to being ready for the start of the season.
“There’s a couple backup sliders I threw in that third inning ahead in the count that you have to get down and away for a swing and a miss or weaker contact, but overall, yeah, I felt pretty good,” he said.
“Today I felt like the curveball was pretty good. I was able to get a strikeout on it to Devers. I wouldn’t say anything is a lot better or anything like that, but I’m trying to work on the changeup and curveball more to some right-handed hitters and today I was able to accomplish that.”
Asked whether analytics are showing that the changeup and curveball can be better if used more, Bundy replied, “I think analytics show pretty much every pitch I throw can be better.”
Cue the laughter.
“No, not necessarily,” he continued. “Just me personally I was wanting to work on those two pitches this spring just to give more looks I guess to each hitters, right- and left-handed.”
The Orioles failed to turn a double play before the wild pitch that would have allowed Scott to get away unscathed.
Scott didn’t walk a batter in his first four appearances, but he’s issued walks in the past four.
Mark Trumbo received his two at-bats, flying to deep center field and bouncing a single into right field, and is 2-for-10 this spring.
Update: Dwight Smith Jr. homered off Heath Hembree in the bottom of the seventh for a 4-2 lead.
Update II: The Orioles failed again to turn a double play after the Red Sox loaded the bases against Jimmy Yacabonis with one out in the eighth. A run scored to reduce the lead to 4-3, the tying run scored on a strikeout/wild pitch, the go-ahead run scored on Carlos Pérez’s passed ball and the Red Sox took a 6-4 lead on Sandy León’s RBI single.
Pérez also had a throwing error in the inning after the passed ball.
Hyde on Bundy following 6-4 loss: “Dylan was outstanding. I think it was 14 for 19 first-pitch strikes. I thought he had a really nice mix. A lot of unpredictable pitches in certain counts. I just thought he did a really nice job. Really liked extra hop on his fastball that he didn’t have early in spring, so that was great to see. Also pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam only giving up a run, making really good pitches. Nice job by him.”
Hyde on failure to turn doubled plays: “I’ll tell you what, you don’t turn double plays in the big leagues, it hurts you and that’s just the bottom line. Quite a few. You give extra outs to good teams and it’s hard to win those types of games.”
On Yacabonis and Pérez in eighth: “I think the ball was moving a little bit all over for Jimmy and Carlos. I don’t think Jimmy had his really good command and he had a ton of movement tonight. Just a tough inning for everybody.”