Looking for their second win in a row, the Orioles (43-49) took the field at muggy Camden Yards Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers (45-47). Dylan Bundy (8-8, 4.33), his first start since July 6, squared off against Tyson Ross (2-1, 5.33) in a game both teams needed to generally build momentum, stay around .500 and in the periphery of the race for the post-season.
Ross was 0-10 for his career against the American League East. At least Baltimore had that going for them. When the night ended, Ross was 0-11.
Quite the first inning
The game brought action immediately. The 30-minute first started with Dylan Bundy surrendering a leadoff homerun to RF Shin-Soo Choo. Bundy retired the Rangers in order from there, but it was the fifth straight game – every one since the All-Star Break – where the O’s opponent scored first. No wonder it feels like they are swimming upstream every day.
Facing the initial deficit, it was the O’s turn. And they didn’t waste it. Adam Jones started things with a line drive base hit, Manny Machado walked and Jonathan Schoop – in his first at bat ever against Tyson Ross – smoked his 25th double of the year plating two runs. Manny scored all the way from first and was like lightning around the bases. That’s nice to see.
Chris Davis followed with a highlight worthy homerun to center off the glove of Carlos Gomez. The first four Baltimore batters all scored and for the second day in a row there appeared to be signs of life in Birdland. After a Mark Trumbo single, Trey Mancini continued his solid season with a two-run homer to left and it was 6-1 after one.
Entering the second inning, the question at hand was one O’s fans have pondered numerous times during 2017. Could the team hold a big early lead or would the starting pitcher let the opponent back in the game?
After a single, hit batter and walk off Bundy, Choo – who homered to start the game – came to the plate with the bases loaded. Astute fans might have had memories of May 8, 2012, when Josh Hamilton punished the O’s with four homeruns in a game at Camden Yards. On a 3-2 count, Choo grounded out to Schoop. Phew. The bases were left loaded and the 6-1 lead was intact.
Bundy delivered with a 1-2-3 third inning, and while he’d thrown 61 total pitches, there seemed to be a bit of a groove developing. The fourth was smooth with a Mike Napoli single the only harm, and things were looking up and under control.
O’s bats stay alive
In the bottom of the fourth, Ruben Tejada singled, Adam Jones reached on an error and Jonathan Schoop walked. The bases were loaded with one out for Chris Davis and Austin Biebens-Dirks (not a typo on the last name, he is from Salem, Oregon) replaced Tyson Ross. Davis greeted Biebens-Dirks with a majestic grand slam to right center and it was 10-1. The rout was on. It was the second homerun of the night for Davis and the third for the O’s.
After the Davis bomb, Trey Mancini singled, Seth Smith was hit by a pitch and Welington Castillo singled to load the bases again. Ruben Tejada grounded out to end the inning, but in the fourth, the O’s batted around for the second time in the game. That’s good.
In the sixth, the O’s loaded the bases again. Biebens-Dirks entered the game with the bases loaded, and two innings later, he left with the bases loaded. Tony Barnette took the mound for Texas to face Manny Machado. Unfortunately, there was not another grand slam. Machado got an RBI on an infield single to short and the bases were still loaded again, this time for Jonathan Schoop. And unfortunately, there was not another grand slam. The All-Star second baseman flew out to left, but it was 11-1.
Seth Smith made it 12-1 with a blast onto Eutaw Street in the eighth. It was the second home run in as many days for the lefty Smith. Caleb Joseph saw action at 3B late in the game and Trey Mancini moved to 1B.
Dylan Bundy gets it done
Maybe it was the extra rest, along with a bit of luck after flirting with danger in the second inning, who knows, but Dylan Bundy had a good night. Bundy ended the sixth with a strikeout, his fourth of the night, and an even 100 pitches. On the night, he went six innings, giving up four hits and one run, along with a walk.
Miguel Castro replaced Bundy in the game and pitched a strong seventh and eighth, retiring all six batters faced. Zach Britton pitched the ninth. Britton’s stuff looked completely on point during his inning of work.
The final score was 12-1 and the O’s guaranteed themselves at least a split of the four-game series.
Notes and Wednesday’s game
Entering Tuesday, Ruben Tejada had 10 hits in the last 11 games. He singled in his first of two fourth inning at bats making it 11 of 12.
Tuesday was the 18th career multi-homerun game for Chris Davis. It was also his career high for RBI in a game.
18,119 was the announced attendance at Camden Yards.
This was the third loss in a row for the Rangers.
It is TBD whether the O’s will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, but according to Ken Rosenthal, owner Peter Angelos apparently has given permission for the team to trade their stockpile of quality relievers if they can get a good deal.
Baltimore plays Texas again Wednesday at 7:05pm. Kevin Gausman (5-7, 6.39) starts against LHP Martin Perez (5-6, 4.55).
Who was the Most Birdland Player for 7/18?
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Chris Davis, 2-4, with 2 HR and 6 RBI.
Dylan Bundy, 6 IP, 4 hits, 4 K’s, 1 run.