Dylan Bundy was everything you could have ever hoped and more. One start is only one start, so we shouldn’t fly off the handle, but how can you not get excited about Bundy coming out of the gate pitching seven innings against the dangerous Blue Jays, striking out eight batters?
Combine that with two home runs from Orioles hitters - the Orioles are still the Orioles, after all - and that’s a recipe for a 3-1 victory to sweep Toronto to start the season. Both of the home runs were milestones for the O’s, in a way. Birdland hero Adam Jones tied Rafael Palmeiro on the franchise leaderboard with his 223rd home run as an Oriole. Chris Davis hit a milestone homer of his own, his 200th in an O’s uniform.
Bundy was so good that it’s almost unbelievable. This is the kind of pitching performance that other teams get, not the Orioles. Just four hits and no walks in seven innings? That’s the kind of pitching that might make one tingly. Not that there’s anything weird about that. Oh, no.
If you look in the box score for Bundy, you will see that he had a whopping 17 swinging strikes on the night. Just about one out of every six pitches that Bundy threw tonight was a swing and a miss by a Blue Jays batter. That’s just ridiculous.
Look at this. This was only the first inning, in which he struck out the side in impressive fashion:
Dylan Bundy out here doing whatever he wants. https://t.co/s3dExyw4vV pic.twitter.com/y3wqmX3J1g— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) April 5, 2017
What you are seeing right there is ~the cutter~ (oooh). Or call it a slider if you want. MLB hitters have not been seeing this pitch except in spring training. It was on the shelf for much of last season, almost as if he was lulling them into a false sense of security. And now, cackling like the Emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi, witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational starting pitcher!
Five of Bundy’s seven innings saw him send down the Blue Jays, 1-2-3. He dominated them the first time through the order, dominated them the second time through the order, and then, just to make sure you were still paying attention, he dominated them the third time of the order, too.
The third inning was the only one where there was trouble. I hesitate to even call it trouble, because although the Blue Jays got three hits in the inning and scored their one run of the game, they hit nothing with authority.
The three singles in order were an opposite field hit by Justin Smoak, a cheap little flare just out of the reach of J.J. Hardy, and another cheap opposite field hit by Devon Travis that died on the grass in front of right fielder Trey Mancini, allowing the run to score.
Now seating the Dong Party, party of two
Toronto’s J.A. Happ, hailing from that dreaded tribe of lefties, was almost as good as Bundy. From a certain point of view, he was even better, since he tossed only 89 pitches over seven innings and struck out nine batters to Bundy’s eight.
That’s pretty good. Unfortunately for Happ, two of the five hits he surrendered were home runs, as the Orioles tend to do.
Jonathan Schoop led off the third inning with the first Orioles base hit of the game. Hardy and Joey Rickard both made outs, bringing up the American hero, Jones. The thing about Jones is that before he was an American hero, he was a Birdland hero. Now, he can be both of those things.
Happ threw an elevated four-seam fastball in near Jones’s wrists. Jones took a rip at the ball and powered it just over the fence, just inside the foul pole down the left field line. At 348 feet, it’s hardly the most impressive home run an Oriole will hit this season, but it was enough to give the O’s a 2-1 lead that proved to be all the scoring they would need.
Just for fun, Davis got in on the home run party the next inning with his milestone homer. Davis connecting against a lefty like Happ and driving the ball into left-center field in the process is a great sign. Hey, do you know what’s over the fence in left-center field? The Orioles bullpen! That rapscallion Darren O’Day, notorious catcher of home runs, leapt up and pulled down his first home run catch of the year.
Don’t panic about Zach Britton, unless you want to
Remember how Britton ended spring training saying he was still figuring things out, and remember how, even though he pitched two scoreless innings on Opening Day, he also gave up a bunch of hits? Well... the hits are continuing.
Birdland villain Jose Bautista welcomed Britton to the game in the ninth inning by ripping a line drive into left field. Line drives off of Britton? Yikes! The tying run, Kendrys Morales, added another single, a worm-burner between third and short. Suddenly, the go-ahead run was at the plate with nobody out.
Britton dispatched Troy Tulowitzki with a quickness: Good morning, good afternoon, and good night! But then his command fled him as he walked Russell Martin to load the bases, bringing up Steve Pearce, the once and future Oriole - a noted lefty-killer.
Pearce fouled off several balls in the air. You have to worry any time Britton is letting anyone hit anything any direction in the air. Pitches were elevated. In the end, Britton got back down where he was supposed to be and Pearce grounded into a game-ending double play. Whew.
For all the excitement in two outings, Britton has a 0.00 ERA, for now. He also has a WHIP of 2.333. That will come down, surely.
These are things to worry about another day, if they don’t end up getting better. Today, the Orioles are still undefeated. They have swept the Blue Jays and sit atop the American League East. Life is good.
Another off day awaits on Thursday, because MLB doesn’t want their fans to enjoy too much April baseball, or something. The next game is Friday against the Yankees, beginning at the standard civilized baseball time of 7:05pm Eastern. You may need the extra day to prepare yourself to watch Ubaldo Jimenez. Luis Severino, he of the 5.83 ERA in 2016, is the Yankees scheduled starter.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 5, 2017?
This poll is closed
Dylan Bundy (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO)
Adam Jones (go-ahead home run, tied Palmeiro)
Chris Davis (hit 200th home run as an Oriole)
Darren O’Day (caught the Davis homer in the bullpen)