Brach on his struggles, Showalter on Bundy and other notes

CHICAGO - If there is such a thing as a reliever slump, maybe Brad Brach was in one recently and is starting to come out of it. He’s been so good for so long this year that when he gives up runs, it stands out.

Brach pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Friday night’s win in Chicago. But in five games and 4 1/3 innings coming into this series, he had allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits.

He has only been scored on in nine of 49 games on the year and three came in his previous five games. His ERA went from 0.86 to 1.27. It’s probably nothing to get alarmed about, he just wasn’t quite as sharp as we’ve seen him for most of this season.

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“I think it’s just one of those things,” Brach said. “It’s not like I’ve been getting hit hard all over the yard, but just not executing pitches when I need to. I seem to be getting to two strikes, but just not been able to put guys away. That is kind of what I see. I’ve put myself in some bad situations like walking guys with no one out. Maybe it is a little fatigue, maybe it’s after the All-Star break thing, All-Star hangover, whatever. I think it is just a couple of pitches that I need to make.”

Brach made the All-Star team for the first time this year, although he didn’t pitch in the game. His 57 2/3 innings ranks second among American League relievers.

It may sound strange but sometimes a pitcher is not sure if he is tired or not. Getting through a long season is challenging and they are almost always dealing with something.

“Yeah and it’s one of those things where it starts creeping into your mind, ‘Maybe I am tired,’” Brach said. “Then a little doubt creeps into your mind. Just trying to stay on top of it. Buck (Showalter) has been really good managing the innings. I know I have thrown a lot to this point, but the last few weeks have gotten some rest here and there. Hopefully these next couple of outings I’ll be able to make that pitch and get back in the groove.”

On to protect a 4-2 lead Friday, Brach walked the No. 9 hitter Carlos Sanchez. He then fell behind leadoff batter Adam Eaton 2-0. But he bounced back to get him to fly out and retired the next two hitters. He put up a zero as O’s fans have to come to expect him to do.

“For me I was able to execute most of the year except for a few recent outings,” Brach said. “It seems like one pitch can mess up the inning. And then you are working to get out of a jam. I think I’ve just put more stress on myself than I need to. I think I’ll be fine. Just get an outing where I make the pitches where I need to.”

It’s a Bundy Sunday: A Chicago reporter asked Showalter about Dylan Bundy yesterday and what has been the key to his recent success. Bundy, who starts today, is 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA his last three starts and gave up just one hit in seven scoreless innings Tuesday versus Texas.

Showalter cited talent, which is pretty important to Bundy. But so is the fact that he has just about put the comeback from his June 2013 Tommy John surgery in his rear-view mirror forever. He’s no longer being asked how his arm feels or when his velocity will come all the way back.

“I think what has kind of happened through it, is he’s not thinking about it (the surgery) anymore,” Showalter said. “It’s been a long process for him to get to that point. It is true with everyone out there - they are all one swing of the arm away from something else. You do everything you can to protect things but you are going to have issues. No one has a magic plan that keeps everyone healthy.

“Dylan, I think he has really developed a real mental toughness through all of it. He already had it a little bit. I think it’s actually made him a better pitcher. He developed some secondary pitches, where he can go out there some nights and not carry a big fastball and be able to survive.

“He is a rare guy at six-foot tall that can create some (downhill) angle. Everyone wants those 6-4, 6-5 guys but there are some shorter pitchers that can create angle. There are some tall guys that don’t pitch tall and shorter guys that do pitch tall. Dylan is one of those guys that pitches tall.”

And he has come up big for the Orioles, producing two scoreless outings among his four starts. He has taken no-hitters into the sixth inning in his past two starts. Later today we’ll find out what the kid has in store for us today.

Great Britton: Zach Britton is now 2-1 with a 0.58 ERA and 34 saves in 34 chances. Over 46 2/3 innings he has allowed just 22 hits with 13 walks and 55 strikeouts. He has not allowed an earned run since April 30. He got the save for the AL in the All-Star Game. He’s been rather dominant and he is a Cy Young Award candidate, so say ESPN’s Buster Olney in this article.

Series finale today: After beating the White Sox 7-5 behind a 16-hit attack on Friday the Orioles lost at U.S Cellular Field 4-2 last night and they produced just six hits. The offense continues to be inconsistent. The Orioles have scored three runs or fewer in 13 of 22 games since the All-Star break. They are 11-11 in those 22.

The Orioles have hit nine homers over the last five games - they didn’t hit one last night - but all nine have been solo homers. Chris Davis was dropped to sixth in the order last night and he walked twice but also struck out two more times. Davis is 6-for-60 his past 17 games.

The Orioles are 8-9 in 17 road series this season and today’s game will decide this series. It would be big for the Orioles to get the series before they head to the west coast for games starting Monday at Oakland and San Francisco.

It was recorded before I left town for the Windy City, but plenty of things worth listening to when you click here to check out our latest Yard Work podcast.

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