Bundy, bullpen, Kim’s home run lift O’s
If the Orioles’ game Sunday was their last at Camden Yards this season, a team that has confounded even while impressing all year went out in familiar style.
The Orioles capped a threegame sweep of the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks with a 2-1 win before an announced 31,229, using a bounce-back start by right-hander Dylan Bundy and four shutout innings of relief to ensure that left fielder Hyun Soo Kim’s two-run home run was all the offense they needed.
Three straight wins don’t make the midweek sweep by the Boston Red Sox any more palatable, but they do keep the Orioles in a good playoff spot as the final week of the regular season begins.
“Thestarting pitching did a great job the last three days, and that kind of set the tone for everything,” closer Zach Britton said. “And then the offense, we gave them a chance to get going, and they scored some runs and the bullpen came in and did a great job.”
Bundy (10-6) struck out five batters while allowing a run on three hits in five innings, erasing the sour memory of his most recent start against Boston. He lowered his ERA to 4.02 this season, and 4.52 since joining the starting rotation at the All-Star break.
“It’s a team win,” Bundy said. “That’s all we’re asking for right now. I was hoping to go deep, but my pitch count got up there in the Hyun Soo Kim bats in the fourth inning. His second-inning homer was one of five Orioles hits. fourth and fifth innings, so I was happy to go five and leave the game with the guys being ahead.”
Kim’s home run was one of just five hits the Orioles had. Diamondbacks rookie Braden Shipley (4-5) let just three base runners enter scoring position.
The Orioles improved to 85-71, including 50-31 at Camden Yards. They can no longer win the American League East but are 11⁄ games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, who lost Sunday, for the second wild-card berth with a week to play.
“It’s a great feeling, the week before the season is over, that we are still in it,” Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. “But it’s important that we are in it after a week. I will make [sure] I ampart of it and the team goes to the right place.” Kim flirts with .300: Entering the game batting a season-low .301, Kim was flirting with the possibility of going below .300 for the first time in his major league career.
So what did he do? Kimhomered with designated hitter Pedro Alvarez on first base after his leadoff single. Kim’s fifth home run of the year brought his average up to .303. In his second at-bat, Kim grounded out before being pinch-hit for in the seventh inning. Well- rested bullpen strikes again: After left-hander Wade Miley recorded all but one of the 27 outs required Saturday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter had all of his bullpen weapons at his disposal Sunday, and used them with great success.
Right-hander Mychal Givens struck out four and allowed only one base runner, a hit batsman, in two scoreless innings of relief. In 11 innings this month, he has allowed one earned run.
Brad Brach made it a little hairier, walking left fielder Chris Owings with one out in the eighth inning and watching him steal second base, but Brach struck out first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Welington Castillo to end the inning.
Britton recorded his 46th save in 46 chances with a clean ninth inning, striking out two while allowing one hit. against Boston, drawing an average of 36,551 in their three games after an announced 31,229 showed up Sunday. In 81 home games overall, the Orioles averaged 26,819, currently 20th in the majors.
They finished their final homestand of the regular season 5-6. Whether Camden Yards will reopen for postseason baseball again this year remains to be seen, but the Orioles finished their home slate doing all they could to ensure another home game. The Orioles need to earn the first wild-card spot or advance to the AL Division Series for that to happen.
“I thought about this homestand, how much we wanted to play well and win the games in front of that type of crowd,” Showalter said. “End of the regular season, obviously … is for the fans. You want to repay their support more than anything.
“Their support has a lot to do with us having a good record,” Showalter added. “It’s always been — what’s a good word? — [a] refuge or safe haven for us. A lot goes into making that atmosphere such [as it is], from the clubhouse to the players to the fans to the organization as a whole, and most of all, the city. It played to our advantage.”