O’s, Bradish get past Twins, Bundy
Baltimore wins a battle of past and present
There was a symmetry to them, out beyond the left-center-field fence at Camden Yards before first pitch Wednesday evening, just as there has been since the 2019 trade that simultaneously connected the pitchers and sent them on diverging paths.
The pair of right-handers — the Orioles’ Kyle Bradish and the Minnesota Twins’ Dylan Bundy — each threw their warmup pitches in their respective bullpens, stacked one next to the other. Three years ago, when the trade went down, Bundy was sent to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Bradish and three other prospects. And now here they were, the two headliners from that deal meeting in the park one called home for years and the other only recently met.
“I guess we’ll always be linked,” Bradish said earlier this week, before Baltimore’s 9-4 win against the Twins.
It was only Bradish’s second start in the majors, but as manager Brandon Hyde described it, facing Bundy so soon after his call-up is one of “the ironies of a baseball season.” This is how Baltimore envisioned it, after all, when the club went into full-sell mode to bulk up a farm system.
Bradish is a product of that, an acquisition who’s now reached the Orioles, a hope for the future after passing on the present. Yet against the pitcher Baltimore offloaded, the 25-year-old mirrored Bundy in many ways, with a dodgy fourth inning in which his earlier command went haywire.
“The most important thing is, he’s going to be pitching every five days,” Hyde said. “These are learning experiences.”
Bradish made it out of the fourth, allowing four runs. Bundy didn’t, surrendering nine runs between the third and fourth before he was lifted.
“I’ve been his teammate for so long, so it was weird to be in the batter’s box,” Trey Mancini said of Bundy.
For both of the starters, the performances left something to be desired — still, Bradish benefited from a sudden offensive awakening.
The early hooks came one night after Hyde called out the Orioles’ offensive approach, claiming that several hitters were “chasing numbers,” seeing low averages on the scoreboard and aiming “to get them up in one at-bat.”
It wouldn’t occur in one at-bat, but as a collective, the contact off Bundy was fierce. Center fielder Cedric Mullins opened the onslaught with a two-run homer that sailed to the flag court above the right field wall. Ramón Urías added another two-run shot in the third inning, bookending a breakout frame that also included RBIs from Rougned Odor and Austin Hays.
The next inning, the Orioles added three more runs off Bundy, chasing him after 3 ⅔ frames. That time, it was Anthony Santander, Hays and Ryan Mountcastle who produced the damage.
“We all know what this offense can do,” said Mancini, who recorded three infield hits Wednesday, something he’d never done before. “I believe in everybody in this lineup, but a lot of times, I think we put too much pressure on ourselves and have been pressing at times, so if we can just kind of take a step back, relax a little bit, it’s a really good offense and tonight we showed that we just trust the guy behind us to do the job, if we don’t get the pitches to do it.”
Those hits and runs from Baltimore helped cover for Bradish’s rocky fourth inning, when he walked the leadoff man and left a fastball over the zone for Carlos Correa to blast for a homer to center field. Two more runs came home, and an additional one could’ve if Bradish and the Orioles hadn’t been the recipient of a lucky break — a liner off the bat of Gilberto Celestino hit Gary Sanchez running between first and second, ending the frame rather than driving home a runner.
In a way, the sixth-run inning for the Orioles may have factored into Bradish’s rough fourth inning. He watched from the dugout rather than from his iPad, appreciating the hit parade that gave him cushion on the mound.
“I should have probably done more in between that inning while I was sitting, but I was enjoying all the hits we were getting and runs,” Bradish said. “Was just being a fan.”
There will be nights such as these for Bradish, when the ball can’t seem to find the zone or miss bats the second time through an order. His slider had impressed through three innings, leading to three whiffs on five swings. Both hits he allowed early were wiped out by double plays — two of five the Orioles turned, their most since July 6, 1999 — although it took the range and arm of shortstop Jorge Mateo to turn the first one.
But nights like these are here because of the deal the Orioles made three years ago.
“Things kind of fell apart in ‘18,” Bundy said this week. “We kind of saw the effects of what happens when you don’t win ballgames and you start trading pieces. And then the rebuild starts, and I was able to get out of there.”
In his place came Bradish. And in that odd twist of fate, it led to Wednesday’s matchup between Bundy and Bradish, figures from the Orioles’ past and future uniting in the present.