As drama swirled around Chris Davis and what work he is or isn’t doing to try to improve his disastrous season, the Orioles were in dire need of a game where they could knock the stuffing out of somebody to get people talking about anybody else. That is exactly what they got on Thursday afternoon, smoking the White Sox, 9-3. Dylan Bundy threw a complete game and set a new career high in strikeouts (14) in the process.
One game with dominant starting pitching combined with an offensive explosion against the worst team in MLB does not fix all that ails the Orioles. It doesn’t fix anything at all. Yes, it’s nice that this one win means that the Orioles no longer have the worst record in MLB. It doesn’t mean that the Orioles will play better against any of the other MLB teams who are not as bad as the White Sox. But it sure beats the heck out of losing this game, too.
This is the sort of game that even a struggling team like the Orioles should have found a way to win. They were squaring off against White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, a one-time top 5 prospect in all of MLB whose star has fallen greatly. Entering Thursday’s game, Giolito had walked more batters than he had struck out for the season. That’s hard to still have true by late May.
Despite a lamentable first inning Manny Machado baserunning blunder that’s not worth more than this passing mention in a game the Orioles won so convincingly, the team was able to get themselves on the scoreboard in the first inning by... standing there while Giolito threw balls out of the strike zone. When a guy can’t throw strikes, that’s all you have to do.
The Orioles had men on first and third with two outs. The maligned man of the day, Davis, drew a walk to load the bases. Pedro Alvarez walked to force in one run. Craig Gentry walked to force in another. Chance Sisco delivered a two-run single to remind us that baseball doesn’t always have to be horrible.
When the second inning began with Trey Mancini and Adam Jones cranking back-to-back dingers, the game’s direction had been set. Mancini’s home run was his seventh of the year, while Jones rounded the bases for the ninth time.
With Giolito retiring just one batter in the second, the White Sox had seen enough after Davis was hit by a pitch and they yanked Giolito for reliever Chris Beck. As it turned out, Beck had problems throwing strikes too, walking Gentry to again load the bases and Sisco to force in a seventh Orioles run.
For all intents and purposes, the game was already over at this point. It only went on because the rules of baseball say that you have to play more innings. The version of Dylan Bundy who showed up in Chicago on Thursday afternoon would go on to see to those innings formally.
So little happened on offense for the White Sox that there’s not much to even say about it. Bundy had their number. Over the complete game effort, Bundy held Sox batters to just two hits and a walk. Bundy is better than them, and it showed. No batter leading off an inning reached base against Bundy for the whole game. He faced the minimum three batters in seven out of nine innings.
It is a small mystery why Bundy was sent out for the complete game, having already thrown 106 pitches through eight innings, but he sent down the White Sox 1-2-3 in the ninth and finished the day with 121 pitches. It is probably not worth worrying about. Hopefully.
The lone blemish on Bundy’s performance on the day came in the fourth inning. Bundy hit Sox third baseman Yolmer Sanchez with a pitch. With two outs in the inning, he struck out Daniel Palka. Unfortunately for him, Sisco wasn’t able to handle the pitch in the dirt through which Palka swung for the third strike. This went in the box score as a wild pitch, a scoring this blogger feels is generous to Sisco. Regardless, the ball bounced far away and Palka reached first despite the strikeout.
The next batter, Jose Rondon, socked a home run off of Bundy, abruptly putting three runs on the board. This is annoying because 24 hours before this writing, Rondon had zero MLB home runs and now he has two. That is very Orioles. Thanks to their thorough destruction of Giolito, this particularly Orioles-ing did not hurt them any on Thursday afternoon.
The Orioles walked seven times in the game while picking up 12 hits. Both of these things are allowed, it turns out. Jones had a 3-6 game. Machado was 3-5. Alvarez also had a multi-hit game. Alvarez walked twice. So did Davis, who reached base three times despite going hitless. Not much help for the batting average, but it’ll work for the on-base percentage.
In a video clip of a pre-game interview played at the start of the MASN broadcast, Davis seemed to be wounded by the criticism leveled at him from Jim Palmer on Wednesday night. In his own pre-game interview, hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh appeared to confirm the substance of Palmer’s remarks, though he did not directly condemn Davis.
Where Davis goes from here is an open question. If he goes 0-14 over the next three games and strikes out nine times, then nothing has changed. If drawing two walks is something he can build on, that will be great to see. The team needs it, especially as long as Buck Showalter continues to bat Davis fifth.
Next up for the Orioles is a trip to Tampa. The Rays are going to “start” reliever Sergio Romo in two of the games, including the Friday 7:10 series opener. That will be weird. Maybe the Orioles will find a way to make it good for them.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for May 24, 2018?
This poll is closed
Dylan Bundy (CG, career high SO, duh)
Adam Jones (3-6, HR, someone must be a contrarian)