Dylan Bundy relied heavily on his slider to get back on track

Right-hander Dylan Bundy and the Orioles were both in need of a quality start last night, and both got one as the Orioles beat the Athletics 5-3. Bundy’s slider was on point big-time as he allowed two runs over six innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. Seven of his strikeouts came via his slider.

He picked up his first quality start since Aug. 4 and first win since July 29. Bundy improved to 8-14 with a 5.48 ERA with his longest outing since Aug. 4. It was his fifth game with no walks and eighth with eight or more strikeouts.

The Orioles rotation ended a run of six straight games without a quality start, with an 11.84 ERA in that span. They had recorded just two quality starts with a 6.88 ERA the previous 15 games.

But on Thursday night, Bundy had it going from the start, striking out the game’s second batter in a 10-pitch first inning. He fanned four in the first three innings, all on sliders.

Bundy-Deliver-White-Sidebar.jpgBundy threw 30 sliders among his 90 pitches, getting 12 swings-and-misses on that pitch. His 40 percent whiff rate on the slider was his best since he also had a 40 percent rate May 24. Bundy got 20 swings-and-misses in that May 24 game, and his total of 16 last night was his most since then. In the last four games he had thrown his slider 25 percent of the time, followed by 24, 21 and 14 percent. But with the crispness and late break on that pitch back last night, he used it 33 percent of the time.

“I was just trying to speed it up a little bit,” Bundy said of his slider. “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.”

Bundy said a key last night was the conviction he had on his pitches, something he described as “knowing that pitch you’re calling and the one you are going to throw to that batter is the right pitch every time.”

Bundy had a 1-7 record and 8.83 ERA since July 6 going into last night’s start. I thought the Orioles should have at least skipped him one turn to regroup after his last game versus Tampa Bay, during which he allowed six runs in four innings. Glad no one from the Orioles listened to me on that one.

Tim Beckham watched Bundy from the dugout last night and not from shortstop. He was the designated hitter in the win over the A’s.

“I told him early on his slider looked really good. He had a good slider working today and kept the hitters off-balance. This is something he can build off of for the next starts and take into next season,” Beckham said.

Beckham drove in two runs with a two-out, first-inning single, and that was big after the Orioles had lost to Oakland the previous two games, scoring two runs total.

“I really wanted to zone it in,” he said. “Anytime you have runners in scoring position, you want to zone it in. Get pitches in a zone to put a good swing at it. Was looking for something out over the plate that I could handle. He threw me a slider that was up in the zone, and I put a good swing on it. We just wanted to have fun with the game and try to play winning baseball.”

Beckham is one of the more veteran players on this Orioles team, which features more young players and more new players in recent weeks. Beckham is enjoying the mix in the clubhouse.

“It’s been cool. You can tell there are young guys trying to feel their way. Kind of take in the experience. But at the same time, they need to know that when you are up here, no matter the circumstances, you want to play winning baseball,” he added.

Mychal Givens got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, preserving what at that time was a 4-3 lead. He pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save. The Orioles snapped a six-game losing streak and ended Oakland’s six-game winning streak.

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