Technically, our curiosity, as Orioles manager Buck Showalter likes to say, was satisfied on Sunday, when uber-phenom Dylan Bundy faced two batters and retired both in his big league debut.
But, for what was left of the announced crowd of 30,205 at Camden Yards on Tuesday, there was plenty of curiosity remaining when Bundy took the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth inning for his home debut.
He faced four batters and threw 22 pitches, only 12 for strikes. He went to a three-ball count on three of the four batters he faced and afterward called his fastball command “brutal.”
Yet he didn’t give up a run, thanks to Colby Rasmus’ decision to swing on a 3-0 pitch, hitting it to J.J. Hardy for an inning-ending double play.
“I was a little less nervous [than my first outing] but couldn’t command any of my pitches except my changeup,” said the 19-year-old Bundy, who also was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year on Tuesday. “My fastball command was brutal tonight. Luckily I got a popout and a double play ball.”
The fans gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced in the ninth, but he said he didn’t notice.
“No, I didn’t really hear too much. I was focused on going out there and pitching,” he said.
He said he was told in the top of the eighth to get ready, that he might pitch in the ninth. And he felt more relaxed when he entered the game with the Orioles trailing 4-0.
“Today wasn’t as much as a shock, because my first one I was nervous,” Bundy said. “Today was a whole lot better.”
He just wasn’t happy with how he executed his pitches, and that’s a good thing. The major leagues are a huge step up and Bundy isn’t acting like he has it all figured out.
His fastball topped out at 95 and was primarily 92 to 95. His changeup was routinely at 85 to 87. He also threw two sliders, both for balls.
The stuff is definitely there. And from what we’ve seen down below, the command will come.
“It’s definitely getting my feet wet, getting used to the whole major league side of it, getting up there and getting used to facing these kind of hitters and learning how to pitch,” he said.
Here’s what manager Buck Showalter had to say: “I'm glad Colby Rasmus swung at a 3-0 pitch there. He had some life. He didn't just lay it in there. I'll dwell on some of the positives. He had a good look on his face, a good demeanor. His presentation is one of respect, but not overwhelmed. Let's face it, he's been here since 11 o'clock this morning. He should have gotten it all out of the way. It was fine. I wanted at the very least while he was here to let him pitch once on the road in a good venue and pitch once here. We'll see what the future holds. We were down in the bullpen tonight in a non-winning situation, not ahead, and it was the right time for him.”
Showalter was asked whether he thought nerves were a factor Tuesday: "For him or me? I put myself in his shoes and you can want something too much. I know our fans have been looking forward to seeing him. It had nothing with to do with the decision to bring him in. Well, maybe a little bit. But I'm proud of him more than he is. I don't know if nervous is the word. Just some anxiety for him knowing what it means to his family and all the people who have come in contact with him. And knowing that whether he pitches well or not doesn't affect how we feel about him."