There are two kinds of Orioles pitchers: the ones who are hit-or-miss, and the ones who are just consistently bad. This season, Dylan Bundy has been in the second group, but in his last few starts he showed enough brilliance to make you hope he’d been promoted to plain-old inconsistent. So which Dylan Bundy would show up for today’s game?
Well, today, Bundy was frustratingly, maddeningly Bundy: getting plenty of swings-and-misses with the breaking stuff but tossing a leaden fastball that stayed around 89-91 mph; staying low with the pitch count but running out of steam after five innings; giving up just four hits, except two of them were home runs.
Angels hitters came to work today with a clear game plan: swing early. In the first inning, it looked like utter genius, as the first three hitters barreled up the first Bundy pitches they saw. Tommy La Stella swatted a single, Mike Trout hit a whistling grounder, Shohei Ohtani hit a noisy flyout, and then Albert Pujols took a belt-high clunker deep for his 640th career home run. 2-0 Angels.
As Gary Thorne pointed out, opposing batters’ average against Bundy has jumped from .175 the first time through the lineup to .327 the second. Was it possible Bundy could look even worse? Mostly, he did not, giving up just one more run, on another Pujols blast in the fourth. But by the fifth, after a bunch of spiked pitches and two mound conferences, it was clear Bundy’s day was done. On a day where Orioles fielding looked sloppy, Jonathan Villar made a beautiful unassisted double play that inning to help Bundy’s cause.
Honestly, though, giving up three runs to a hard-hitting lineup isn’t that bad. The real problem was wasted chances by Orioles hitters against a very meh Matt Harvey. Camden Chatter neveraging described Saturday’s contest as the “dream game of washed out aces,” and leaving aside how generous that is to Bundy, it was unspeakably frustrating to see Harvey labor through four innings with mediocre stuff and the Orioles fail to score on him. Harvey was gone after four innings and 93 pitches—hey, maybe we should sign him!—but after a two-run DSJ homer in the first, the O’s couldn’t get the big hit, leaving men on in the second, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh. Yes, the O’s swing-happy lineup made Harvey work today, but the results just weren’t there.
A 3-2 game unraveled for the Orioles in a miserable sixth inning. The new bullpen villain was the usually-reliable Gabriel Ynoa, who came on and immediately gave up consecutive singles to Ohtani and Pujols before striking out Brian Goodwin on a 3-2 sinker. This gutsy achievement was spoiled when Ynoa walked Jonathan Lucroy to load the bases, then gave up a run-scoring single to Kole Calhoun to make it 4-2. A Cozart grounder should have been an inning-ending double play, but Jonathan Villar got zero outs on the play, missing second base with his foot and throwing the ball way over Chris Davis’ head. For a touch of déjà vu, Ynoa got the same tapper on the next play, and still the O’s managed just one out, allowing the sixth run to score. Ynoa was yanked for Branden Kline, whose first batter got aboard on a rare call of catcher interference. Facing Mike Trout with the bases loaded, Kline had a definite big-league moment, getting Trout to swing through a 3-2 high slider to end the inning.
Kline stayed on to pitch a clean seventh. Newly-promoted Jimmy Yacabonis came on for the eighth and ninth, looking like the trip down has somewhat improved his stuff. He rang up three strikeouts but gave up run número siete on a single, stolen base, and Ohtani single.
A couple more takeaways:
- Driving runs in remains a huge problem for the O’s, who have gone from seventh place in the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position to last place. Today they went 1-for-10 in such situations and left ten on base.
- This was a lousy defensive game for Austin Wynns. He had his work cut out for him with Bundy, Ynoa, and Kline throwing wild pitches all day, but Wynns allowed several bounced balls to go right by him, committed catcher’s interference in the sixth, and made a poor throw on a Kole Calhoun stolen base in the eighth.
- O’s pitching gave new life to what Camden Chatter CamdenWarehouse called “the undead Albert Pujols.” The 39-year-old Pujols, who’s hitting .226 this season, went 3-for-5 in this game, hitting career home runs No. 640 and 641 to put him 19 behind Willie Mays on the all-time list.
- The O’s have turned more double plays than any other AL team. Well, that’s nice to know.
- The on-field frustrations aside, how great was A League of Their Own day? The first pitch was thrown out by 83-year-old Virginia Ventura Manina, who played first base for the Rockford Peaches in 1951 and 1953, and a lot of people showed up to the game in full Rockford Peaches regalia. For the hardy fans sticking around post-game to watch the movie, it’s a shame about the rain, though.