When the Orioles drafted Dylan Bundy with the fourth overall pick in 2011, a game like tonight is the kind of game you could have hoped to see him pitch in. It’s August, there’s a pennant race going on, and the O’s need a beast to show up and shut down a first place team, so of course Bundy would be that beast.
Cruel reality has intervened a lot over the several seasons that Bundy has been in the Orioles organization, at least until this year. Bundy, despite making only three MLB starts before tonight, was that beast against the Rangers.
Bundy blasted through a good lineup, fortified at the trade deadline by two All-Stars, for seven shutout innings and if it wasn’t for general concerns about his long-term health, Bundy could have kept going. He’d only thrown 88 pitches.
Add to that an Orioles home run party against Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish and it all added up to a spectacular series-opening 5-1 win for the O’s against the Rangers.
Another no-hitter watch
In his most recent start before this, Bundy carried a no-hitter through five innings. It was more of the same on Tuesday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. When Bundy wasn’t striking out batters, blowing them away with high fastballs or catching them looking with perfectly-placed stuff on the corners, he was getting easy-as-you-please ground ball outs.
The start was nothing short of impressive. This is the pitcher the Orioles have been looking for all these years. Bundy looked like he could come out and do the same thing to this Rangers lineup any time he was asked to do so. The Rangers are a very good hitting team and they were helpless against him. They never even got a runner to second base against Bundy.
Yu gave up some dongs
The Orioles are a home run hitting team. Even when they’re slumping, as they have done a lot since the All-Star break, they will come out of the slump eventually, and when they do, there will be dongs.
Rangers starter Yu Darvish had made six starts this year before tonight, giving up three homers in 32 innings of work. That’s not exactly a guy who’s homer-prone. That doesn’t matter. When it’s time, it’s time.
Darvish was about as dominant as Bundy for the first four innings of the game, in fact. He didn’t carry a no-no later on into the game like Bundy did, but the O’s, despite a couple of first inning hits, never seriously threatened. The thing about home runs is you don’t need to have a rally first. They are their own rally.
Pedro Alvarez broke the scoreless tie by leading off the fifth inning with a home run into the seats in right field. After the now-customary running of El Toro through the dugout, the Orioles led, 1-0.
Darvish returned to retiring Orioles hitters, at least until Adam Jones came up in the sixth inning with one out. Darvish left a pitch out over the plate enough that Jones was able to get a hold of it and launch a moonshot that had that CRACK! sound off the bat but launched so high it only landed two rows deep. That’s a row more than Jones needed. He rounded the bases with his 21st home run of the year and the O’s had a 2-0 lead.
Just for fun, Alvarez launched another home run off of Darvish in the seventh inning. That made it 15 bombs on the season for Alvarez. Maybe he just has Darvish’s number. It was an impressive display.
That sent Darvish packing from the game after 6.1 innings of work. Darvish only allowed six hits and a walk, and he even out-paced Bundy with seven strikeouts. The three home runs did him in - doubling his season total, in fact. That’s what happens when you face the Orioles.
Oh, and Matt Wieters greeted relief pitcher Dario Alvarez (no relation to Pedro) to the game by going opposite field with a home run that landed on the grounds crew’s shed. Wave it bye-bye for the tenth time this year for Wieters, and wave hello to the Orioles having a 4-0 lead.
Things get interesting
Bundy is not why things got interesting. He worked his final inning in 11 pitches, sending the Rangers down 1-2-3. Things did, however, get interesting in the eighth inning, when Brad Brach came on to hold the lead.
Brach walked new Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy with one out, then after getting an 0-2 count on Nomar Mazara, gave up a single. Some bad luck bit him next: a sharp line drive hit by Mitch Moreland couldn’t quite be handled by Chris Davis at first base. Brach was slow to cover first on the play, resulting in an infield single to load the bases.
If you look at the strike zone map, Brach actually had Moreland struck out in the at-bat (pitch 6) but home plate umpire Jerry Layne didn’t call the strike. That’s going to happen sometimes, especially when Wieters is behind the plate.
Just like that, the tying run was at the plate. That is less than ideal. Andrus, who had the only base hit off Bundy all night, hit a sacrifice fly to score Lucroy and put the Rangers on the board. Brach stayed wild, walking Jurickson Profar to load the bases and bring the go-ahead run to the plate.
Things haven’t gone great for Brach since the All-Star Game. Hopefully his rough patch won’t last too much longer.
In came Darren O’Day, who you never have to worry about because he has ice in his veins. O’Day made it interesting, getting to a 3-2 count on Ian Desmond before getting him swinging to end the threat.
O’Day polished off the Rangers 1-2-3 in the ninth inning and qualified for a save since he entered with a three run lead. The Orioles picked up another run in the bottom of the eighth after getting two men on base when a broken bat dribbler hit by Davis snuck through the shifted Rangers infield. That took things out of Zach Britton range, so might as well keep in O’Day for the save.
The two teams will be back in action on Wednesday at the standard civilized baseball time of 7:05. Kevin Gausman is the scheduled starter for the O’s, with Cole Hamels set to start for the Rangers as the O’s look to defend their first place position for another night.