One of the regular themes of the 2018 Orioles season is the way that they never content themselves with garden variety failure. They must, as often as possible, fail in such a thorough and convincing way that all hopes for the near future are ground into dust. They were at it again on Tuesday night as they continued their winless year in Canada with an 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
Many of the Orioles who are around right now, it must be acknowledged, are placeholders. Somebody must play the games while the team tries to cobble together something better in the farm beneath them. Some, though, could be key players on the next good Orioles team, or at least future trade pieces if they’re able to show some value. Dylan Bundy is one such player. He started on Tuesday night and he was very bad again.
Let’s just get the ugly totals out of the way first thing. Bundy only pitched four innings and still managed to give up seven runs on ten hits. That included three home runs surrendered, bringing his total for the season up to a whopping 33 home runs in 135.2 innings pitched. Even in the home run environment of modern baseball, it’s hard to be that prolific for that long of a time in giving up dingers.
This is not an isolated incident for Bundy. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but there is a very clear line for him where things started to go wrong this year. He went on the disabled list with an ankle injury after a June 23 start against the Braves. The Orioles brought him back from the DL on July 6, without having given Bundy any rehab appearance.
Since that time, Bundy’s ERA has ballooned to 5.31. He has allowed at least five runs in six of his last eight starts and he’s surrendered seven earned runs in each of his last three starts. Something seems to be not right. The Orioles continue to throw him out there as if everything is fine, as if one more game will be the cure for what ails him. As yet, this has not been the case.
In true 2018 Orioles fashion, Bundy’s undoing was a combination of his own struggles and the defense just not giving him a break. After giving up a leadoff double to Curtis Granderson to start the game, a Jonathan Villar error put another runner on base. A double play nearly defused the threat, but Villar could not come up with a pop-up to shallow center. It was playable. He did not play it. This was scored as a single, with the Jays taking a 1-0 lead.
The O’s offense tied the game in the top of the second with some station-to-station baserunning and four singles. Adam Jones hit the first of them and scored when Caleb Joseph hit a bases loaded single.
The tie did not last long. Bundy served up a tater to Jays third baseman Aledmys Diaz to put the O’s in a 2-1 hole. In the fourth inning, the Jays ambushed him for four hits in their first five batters, scoring two runs, and then scoring a third run on a play where Renato Nunez couldn’t cleanly field a ground ball. All of the runs still went down as earned.
Bundy had thrown “just” 69 pitches to get through four innings. Buck Showalter chose to have Bundy start the fifth inning. Smoak homered off of the first pitch he saw. Two pitches later, Kendrys Morales went deep for the 17th time this season. Bundy’s night was done. He did not get an out in the fifth inning.
How much more of this disaster do they need to see? Do they even know what’s wrong? Bundy’s 2018 performance is the kind of thing that makes me feel like anybody responsible for pitching development in the organization should be fired before this rebuild gets any farther - along with, maybe, everyone who could have fired those people sooner and didn’t.
Whatever is there, it is not working. By the way, Kevin Gausman threw eight shutout innings for the Braves tonight.
While this was going on, the O’s offense was busy stinking it up against Jays starter Sam Gaviglio. No offense is able to flail away against a 5+ ERA pitcher quite like the Orioles. Across seven innings, he held the Orioles to two runs on six hits and one walk, with seven strikeouts.
In all, seven of the nine Orioles starters had a hit. That’s normally good news, except none of them had a multi-hit game and only two of them drew a walk. There just weren’t many scoring opportunities. The lone bright spot came in the top of the fifth inning when hopeful center fielder of the future Cedric Mullins ripped another line drive home run, the second of his MLB season and career, briefly pulling the O’s within three runs at 5-2, at least until Bundy started giving up his own homers.
Chris Davis had another four strikeout game. If you can believe it, that’s only his fourth golden sombrero of the season. The good news for Davis is that he has another 24 strikeouts to go before he moves up another spot on the career strikeouts list. He is now chasing Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who sits in 39th place with 1,686 strikeouts. He batted fifth tonight, the 55th time he has done so this season despite his .163/.241/.306 batting line.
The Royals are also losers on Tuesday night, so these two woeful teams once again keep the pace with one another, the O’s still holding a one game edge in the race for the #1 draft pick next year.
The Orioles will try to avoid a winless year in Canada as they also try to dodge a sweep in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon. David Hess is scheduled to start for the O’s against Thomas Pannone of the Blue Jays. Pannone is a rookie who will be pitching in his fifth ever MLB game and making his first ever start. I think we all know what to expect.