The Orioles made it through nine innings tonight without any extracurricular activities in the dugout. Guys leaned on the railing or sat on the bench. They talked. They spit. They bonded.
They watched another early deficit materialize and the Orioles lose for the sixth time in eight games since a .500 July.
Given the unwanted attention that clung to them since the fifth inning Wednesday night, they were just glad to shift the focus back to the field. Being on the wrong end of the score must have seemed almost palatable.
Dylan Bundy labored through a 30-pitch first inning, giving up two runs with two outs, before getting on a nice roll that couldn’t prevent the Astros from winning the series opener 3-2 before an announced crowd of 19,407 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are 38-77 overall and 17-42 at home. And the schedule isn’t getting any easier.
Jace Peterson homered off former Orioles starter Wade Miley in the fifth - a left-on-left crime - to reduce the lead to 2-1. Hanser Alberto had a double and two singles through the fifth, continuing is assault on left-handed pitching. He began the night with a .401 average against them.
Stevie Wilkerson’s solo shot off Joe Smith in the seventh sliced the lead to 3-2.
Chris Davis didn’t start, but he was greeted mostly with cheers along with some scattered boos as he pinch-hit for Richie Martin in the seventh and struck out. He received a louder ovation with two outs in the ninth after Peterson singled off Roberto Osuna, but he lined out against the shift. Looked like a hit off the bat.
His blowup with manager Brandon Hyde two nights ago grew a little smaller in the rearview.
Bundy made it through six innings and allowed only the two runs with five hits, one walk and six strikeouts. He retired 12 of the last 13 batters.
Completing six innings seemed to be an unlikely proposition after he stranded two runners in the second, striking out Jose Altuve with a 93 mph fastball, and sat at 55 pitches.
The first inning dragged for Bundy, who allowed a one-out single to Altuve and retired Michael Brantley on a fly ball. Almost able to escape, he surrendered an RBI double to Alex Bregman and run-scoring single to Yordan Alvarez on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Brantley led off the third with a double and was stranded. Bundy’s fastball touched 93 mph again as he struck out Alvarez.
Bundy threw 10 pitches in the fourth while retiring the side in order and eight in the fifth despite George Springer’s leadoff double. His strikeout of Alvarez leading off the sixth came on another 93 mph fastball.
The Orioles didn’t have a quality start in the last 11 games.
Miley has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his lasts eight starts. Left-handed hitters were slashing .176/.250/.319 against him this season, but Peterson took him to the opposite field in the fifth.
Jonathan Villar walked with two outs in the sixth and Will Harris replaced Miley. Villar broke late for second base on a stolen base attempt and was out.
Altuve drove a Shawn Armstrong pitch into the right-center field gap with two outs in the seventh inning for an RBI triple and 3-1 lead. Wilkerson brought the Orioles closer, but Renato Núñez and Villar struck out to end the eighth after Trey Mancini walked and Anthony Santander singled.
The Orioles didn’t surrender a home run, holding their season total to 234, after surrendered two or more in 12 straight games. They didn’t lose their cool. They just lost a game, and by a slim margin.
Nothing to embarrass themselves on the field or inside the dugout.
They’d take it after what they endured earlier in the week.
Hyde on Bundy getting on a roll: “Obviously his first couple innings he really grinded through. I thought he did a great job of limiting damage, only giving up a couple runs in that first inning. Obviously threw a ton of pitches in the first two innings. Really settled in nicely after that and did a nice job of mixing his pitches and nice slider tonight.
“I just thought his command was off early. And that’s a tough lineup to pitch against. They foul off so many pitches, they have great place discipline, they don’t expand the strike zone. So you have to make pitches in the zone to get these guys out and after the second inning I thought he was really, really good.”
Hyde on not allowing any home runs: “That was nice to see. I thought we really pitched well. I thought Miguel Castro was outstanding, big double play ball in the ninth to give us a chance. Paul Fry came in and did his job.
“We played a good baseball game. Lost 3-2 against a tough team. We had our opportunities to tie it or take the lead late in the game and just didn’t get the big hit. But I thought we played well.”
Hyde on Peterson: “That’s how Jace swung the bat on the road when he first got here and then he hit a few tough games. I think you saw his power the other night against New York and then tonight also to left-center field. He’s obviously a real strong guy, and a big hit in the ninth inning also. He took really good at-bats.”
Bundy on what happened after second inning: “I think they were just starting to put it in play earlier in the count and great defense. Couple diving plays, couple balls caught in foul territory. So defense was a factor in the low pitch count after the second inning.”
Bundy on getting back to baseball after Wednesday: “Yeah. I don’t really have a comment on that. That’s not me. So that’s over with and we’re all moving forward.”
Bundy on team ending home run streak: “I didn’t know that much about it. I heard a little something about homers every game, but yeah, it’s nice anytime we don’t give up a homer. So that was big.”
Bundy on what Astros did early to drive up pitch count: “Hitting really good pitches. At least two of them were good pitches that they hit and were able to get two RBIs off them.”
Peterson on being able to contribute after long road back: “It feels good. That’s kind of what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to put up good numbers no matter where you’re at, so it definitely feels good. It was a good game tonight and we just came up a little short.”
Peterson on team being more competitive after Yankees series: “I thought the first game against the Yankees we played well. The last two games got away from us a little bit, but you have to bounce back today and having a chance to win in the ninth was good.”
Peterson on what Orioles are looking for over rest of season: “Win ballgames. Try to go out there and compete every day. We’ve got the talent in here to win ballgames and be competitive every day, so right now we’re just taking it each day and try to get better each day and try to win a game.”
Alberto on being involved in competitive game: “It was pretty good. We’re fighting against a really good team right now and we’re fighting today. We got a loss. We never give up, but we always try to tie the game, so when we go to home plate or play defense, all we can do is make the play and put the ball in play as a hitter. Today, we played really good.”