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