As usual he wasn’t lighting up the radar gun - his velocity average was 90.6 mph, up from 89.8 mph in his last game - but he threw a solid game as the Orioles beat Cleveland 5-1 to even the four-game series at a game apiece.
Bundy’s fastball usage was at a season-low 41 percent as he threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and one unearned run. He walked three, fanned seven and threw a season-high 118 pitches, 70 for strikes. That is three pitches off his career high set last May 24.
Bundy tonight threw his four-seam fastball 45 times and it topped out at 92.7 mph. He used his changeup 37 times, slider 20 times and went to the curveball for 13 pitches. He was an out away from his third quality start in five outings and two errors didn’t help his cause.
But over his past five games, Bundy has an ERA of 2.79, allowing nine earned runs in 29 innings. He’s allowed two earned runs or less three times in that span, including in two of his past three games. He improved to 2-5 with an ERA of 4.66 and that is second-best among Orioles starting pitchers.
Right-hander Branden Kline came on after Bundy got the first two outs in the sixth. A walk and a second error on Jonathan Villar followed and Kline got Leonys Martin to bounce out, then put up a 1-2-3 last of the seventh.
Bundy and the Birds fell behind 1-0 in the second inning. After the right-hander retired the first four batters, Villar booted a José Ramírez grounder and then Ramírez stole second. He scored on Jake Bauers’ single to left.
But the Orioles moved ahead in the third and Villar came up big this time. Rio Ruiz, batting a team-leading .324 in May, doubled to lead off the frame off Tribe starter Jefry Rodriguez and went to third on a single by Austin Wynns. Then Villar got a curveball low in the zone and mashed it out to right for a 3-1 lead. Villar hit No. 5 a distance of 378 feet.
Leading by that margin, the O’s added on an inning later. Stevie Wilkerson hit his fourth homer for a 4-1 lead. Wilkerson got a 2-2 curveball and hit it out for his third home run this month. Wilkerson added an RBI double in the eighth to complete the scoring. He had a 2-for-4 two-RBI night with a double and home run.
The Orioles are 15-29 and win for the first time in four tries on this road trip and the second time in the last nine games. Cleveland falls to 23-20.
In Game 3 of this series tomorrow at 4:10 p.m., lefty John Means (5-3, 2.33 ERA) faces right-hander Adam Plutko, who will making his season debut.
Manager Brandon Hyde on Bundy’s outing: “For me, that was just pitching. I think that’s something we’ve been preaching all along with him. His fastball is going to play up when his off-speed is working, and his off-speed stuff is really good. He’s got a really good changeup, curveball and he’s got command of it. I just thought he did a great job of setting up hitters. It’s a tough left-handed lineup, but I just thought he mixed really, really well. It was just a really great performance.”
Hyde on pushing Bundy to a high pitch count: “I thought he was throwing the ball well. I saw the velo staying - his fastball was still good. I thought he was still making pitches. I might have extended him a little longer than I wanted to just because of our (bullpen) situation tonight, but I thought he just had really good stuff into the sixth inning. I think I’ve said that all along, if I see guys keep their stuff throughout and they’re in position to win a game, I’d like to take guys as long as they can go. That’s what we did tonight.”
Hyde on Villar’s night: “He had a tough day defensively, and picked us up big with a three-run homer. He’ll be all right.”
Bundy was on a mission to go deep in the game: “Yeah. Absolutely. Kind knew we were a little short in the ‘pen tonight. And, you know, that’s your main goal every night as a starter, to go out there and last as long as you can. Give your team some innings and keep them in the game.”
Bundy on his pitch mix tonight: “Yeah, for the first inning, I really felt good with the off-speed stuff. Curveball was getting over for strikes. That really helps. If you are not getting it over, that makes it hard and you’re pitching behind in the count. I was able to get it over tonight and changeup played well to a lefty-hitting lineup. I’m not sure if the velo was up any higher or not. I don’t really care. Just try to make your pitches and throw quality strikes.”
Wilkerson on Bundy: “He’s been throwing the ball really well lately. He did a good job throwing strikes and had his curveball going. He threw the ball really well tonight.”
Wilkerson on team bouncing back after blowout loss: “I think it starts with the coaching staff. They come with a fresh attitude every day, no matter what happened the day before, win or loss. And we’re going to grind every day and put our best foot forward and try to play our best game.”