O’s Bundy showing he belongs
Orioles pitcher continues to look strong in return from Tommy John surgury
— Over five dominating innings Friday evening, Dylan Bundy showed why the Baltimore Orioles will have difficulty not keeping him in the starting rotation over the remainder of the second half.
Making just his second career start as he continues his resurgence from Tommy John surgery in 2013, Bundy produced perhaps his finest outing in an Orioles uniform, allowing one unearned run on five hits over five innings as Baltimore topped the Cleveland Indians 5-1 in a battle of American League playoff contenders.
Bundy (3-2), making his first-ever start before the home crowd, struck out five batters and allowed no walks before departing having thrown a career-high 87 pitches.
“It’s great to give the team five innings and give the team a chance to win,” said Bundy, who struck out the side in the first inning but couldn’t match the seven strikeouts he recorded in a relief appearance against the Los Angels Dodgers on July 6. “The starter’s goal is to give the team a chance to win and I was able to do that today.”
The Orioles’ top pitching prospect proved much more effective than his starting debut less than a week ago in Tampa Bay, when he allowed four runs on five hits, including three home runs, over 3 1-3 innings.
“Me and [catcher] Caleb [Joseph] had a good game plan of getting all my pitches in the game early,” said Bundy, who showcased far more changeups and curveballs than his previous start when he threw 80 percent fastballs. “I think we were on the same page, we were able to get into a rhythm and it worked out well for us.”
The Indians scored their lone run against Bundy in the fifth inning when Abraham Almonte, who doubled and later advanced to third on a passed ball, crossed the plate on a double play off the bat of Carlos San-
tana. The run proved to be unearned after the Orioles failed to tag out Almonte one batter earlier during a run-down situation, allowing him to return to third on a fielder’s choice.
Bundy’s performance is a welcoming sight for an Orioles organization that drafted the now 23-year-old power pitcher out of high school with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 MLB First Year Player Draft. As Baltimore battles for a possible playoff spot, the young pitcher could very well make a difference in a rotation that currently ranks among the worst in the majors in earned run average.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced before the game that Bundy may have enough innings left to remain in the rotation the rest of the season. He entered the contest having thrown 41 1-3 innings.
Historically, players returning from Tommy John surgery are placed on strict inning limits.
“That’s a really good offensive team over there [in the Cleveland dugout] so that makes it even more impressive,” Showalter said of Bundy’s outing. “He was good. He pitched as much as threw.”
By the time Bundy walked off the mound Friday, the Orioles had staked him a four-run lead.
Mark Trumbo put Baltimore on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a three-run home run to left field. Adam Jones then added to the total with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, before Manny Machado led off the third inning with his 20th home run of the season.
“We need more of [what Bundy did]. He’s on pace to do something special for us, carry this pitching staff and helping us get to where we want to be,” Machado said. “We were impressed with what he did today.”
The Indians threatened to score in the sixth inning when they placed runners on the corners with one out, but a ground ball double play started by reliever Odrisamer Despaigne erased the threat.
Despaigne, who started the sixth inning for Baltimore, threw the next 3 2-3 innings of relief, allowing no runs and three hits with four strikeouts. Closer Zach Britton then entered with a pair of runners on and two outs in the ninth and recorded a groundout for the one-out save.
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig
Ryleigh Thomas of North East, bottom left, poses with the rest of the Delaware Cobras (Bear, Del.) travel softball team after it captured the USSAA World Series Championship on July 17. Thomas was selected the World Series MVP by a group of college coaches, umpires and USSSA representatives after she finished the tournament with a 6-1 record and one save. The Cobras went 9-1 en route to the title.