Missed op­por­tu­nity

O’s fall in first game of fi­nal se­ries against AL East-lead­ing Bos­ton

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

When Dy­lan Bundy faced the Bos­ton Red Sox last week at Fen­way Park, he tempted fate by walk­ing four bat­ters, and de­spite al­low­ing 10 base run­ners over 51⁄ in­nings, he man­aged to give the Ori­oles enough for an even­tual three-run win.

But Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter has spent enough time com­pli­ment­ing the Red Sox of­fense since that se­ries in Fen­way, say­ing be­fore the teams opened a piv­otal four-game se­ries at Cam­den Yards on Mon­day night that some­times the Bos­ton hit­ters look as if they “can al­most get bored of­fen­sively.”

And while Showal­ter didn’t openly ad­mit pur­posely lin­ing up his top starters to face the Red Sox this week, it hap­pened that way, with Bundy, 23, squar­ing off with Cy Young Award con­tender Rick Por­cello in Mon­day night’s se­ries opener.

Bundy wasn’t hurt on the score­board in the early in­nings, but his ini­tial stum­bles against a Bos­ton of­fense that can pounce quickly led to his even­tual un­rav­el­ing in the Ori­oles’ 5-2 loss to the Red Sox in front of an an­nounced 18,456 at Cam­den Yards that in­cluded a siz­able group of Red Sox fans that took over Ori­ole Park at times with “Let’s go Red Sox!” chants.

“Yeah, one of the best line­ups in base­ball along with ours,” Bundy said about a Red Sox team that is hit­ting a ma­jors-lead­ing Tonight, 7:05 TV: MASN Ra­dio: 105.7 FM AL EAST STAND­INGS W-L 86-64 82-68 81-68 77-72 64-85 Bos­ton Ori­oles Toronto* New York Tampa Bay *late game IN­SIDE Ori­oles top starters lined up for Bos­ton se­ries; Pearce to have surgery Wed­nes­day

.286. “We got a good one, too. They just got me tonight.”

Four of Bos­ton’s five runs off Bundy scored on two-run homers. Mookie Betts jumped on a 2-0 fast­ball in the third in­ning and sent it over the left-field wall. And af­ter Dustin Pe­droia’s RBI sin­gle with one out in the fifth, which also came with Bundy be­hind in the count, David Or­tiz turned on a 1-1 changeup, send­ing it onto the right-field flag court.

“I think it’s about the Bos­ton Red Sox,” Showal­ter said of Bundy, who owns a 7.98 ERA in three starts against them this sea­son. “Dy­lan’s do­ing well. I’m real proud of him. He’s go­ing to be a good ma­jor league pitcher. [If he] stays healthy, like you say about any young pitcher, it’s go­ing to be a lot of fun to watch him pitch in the fu­ture. He was prob­a­bly dis­ap­pointed, but he kept us en­gaged in it, and that’s why their club’s [hit­ting] about 20 points [higher than] the next team. They’re a good team.”

Over his past seven starts, Bundy has a 6.62 ERA and just one qual­ity start. In­cluded in that stretch are four out­ings in which Bundy has al­lowed five runs. Bundy had a 2.76 ERA over his first six ma­jor league starts af­ter join­ing the ro­ta­tion fol­low­ing the All-Star break.

Bundy, who opened the sea­son in the bullpen so he could grad­u­ally work up his in­nings count af­ter miss­ing most of the past three sea­sons with in­juries, passed the 100-in­ning mark for the first time since his first pro sea­son in 2012 (1051⁄ in­nings) and now has pitched 1042⁄ in­nings.

“Phys­i­cally great,” Bundy said when asked how he felt. “My arm’s feel­ing great. Still do­ing my work­outs, my [side ses­sions] in be­tween starts. So there’s no is­sue there.”

These games against the Red Sox — the Ori­oles’ fi­nal head-to­head meet­ing against the Amer­i­can League East lead­ers — are in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant be­cause the chase for the di­vi­sion is dou­bly af­fected by ev­ery win and loss.

With Mon­day’s loss, the Ori­oles fell to four games back of the Red Dy­lan Bundy re­acts as Mookie Betts, back­ground, cir­cles the bases af­ter his two-run third-in­ning home run. Sox with 12 games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son, mean­ing that even if they win the fi­nal three matchups this week, they will still trail in the di­vi­sion stand­ings. De­pend­ing on Toronto’s late game in Seat­tle, the Ori­oles would en­ter to­day no worse than tied for the two AL wild-card spots.

Bundy, whose night ended af­ter throw­ing a ca­reer-high 99 pitches af­ter five in­nings, en­tered the third in­ning hav­ing thrown 42 pitches, 23 in the first in­ning. Both of those long in­nings came af­ter Bundy struck out the first bat­ter he faced on three pitches. The Ori­oles’ first-in­ning strug­gles have been well doc­u­mented, but this time the dam­age wasn’t done on their 5.92 open­ing-in­ning ERA. In­stead, the first and sec­ond in­nings put a large dent in Bundy’s pitch count.

“You’re go­ing to have to grind,” Showal­ter said. “They do a great job of grind­ing at-bats, a lot like our guys do at times. But they’re pretty con­sis­tent mak­ing you [work]. They’ve got some real depth to their bat­ting or­der, like a lot of teams do in the Amer­i­can League East. I think that’s what you look at more when you’re deal­ing with young pitch­ers, how they han­dle that grind of ev­ery pitch, the in­ten­sity it takes to throw ev­ery pitch.”

The first in­ning was ex­tended by an er­ror by Bundy, whofielded a grounder by Xan­der Bo­gaerts in front of the mound and threw it wildly past first base­man Chris Davis. Showal­ter ar­gued to no avail that Bo­gaerts was run­ning out­side the base­line — a play that can’t be re­viewed. Two bat­ters later, Betts worked a six-pitch walk with two outs. In the sec­ond in­ning, Bundy had to bat­tle rookie left fielder An­drew Ben­in­tendi through a nine-pitch at-bat that in­cluded four foul balls be­fore it ended with a ground­out to first base.

“You can say that all you want,” Bundy said when asked about his early in­nings set­ting the tone for the night. “But I wasn’t mak­ing qual­ity pitches and they were putting qual­ity barrel on it. That’s all there was to it.”

With Por­cello on the mound, Bundy didn’t have much mar­gin for er­ror. Ori­oles right-han­der Kevin Gaus­man pitched eight shutout in­nings to beat Por­cello, 1-0, last week at Fen­way. Por­cello re­tired the last 17 hit­ters he faced that night.

Af­ter Mark Trumbo’s RBI dou­ble with two outs in the fourth, Por­cello — who had a com­plete game on just 89 pitches — al­lowed just three hits, and the only bat­ter to reach be­yond first base was Adam Jones, who hit his 28th homer of the sea­son with two outs in the eighth.

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Mark Trumbo gri­maces af­ter strik­ing out to end the sixth in­ning of the Ori­oles’ loss to Bos­ton. Trumbo dou­bled ear­lier in the game, scor­ing Manny Machado, but it wasn’t enough as the Ori­oles fell four games be­hind the Red Sox in the Amer­i­can League East.

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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