Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy matched Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber batter for batter through three scoreless innings Monday night, and the fans who showed up at Camden Yards under threat of rain had to believe they were in for a special pitching duel.
Bundy's fast start disintegrated in a hail of fourth-inning line drives and the Indians put up back-to-back four-run innings to end the Orioles' hopes of adding to their modest two-game winning streak. The Indians never looked back, scoring an 12-0 victory before an announced 13,875 in the opener of a four-game series.
"I didn't have anything," Bundy said. "I was battling out there trying to get outs and locating as best as I could. … Even the first three innings, I was getting some long and hard outs and wasn't really commanding the baseball at all tonight."
So much for momentum. Bundy needed 100 pitches to retire 13 batters, leaving with one out in the fifth inning and allowing six earned runs. His pitching line was finalized when reliever Vidal Nuño surrendered a two-run homer to first baseman Carlos Santana.
That homer extended a dubious stretch for the Orioles pitching staff, which has set an American League record by allowing five or more runs in 16 consecutive games. The major league record of 20 is held by the Philadelphia Phillies, and it was set when Calvin Coolidge was president.
The Indians weren't done. They kept hammering away at the beleaguered Orioles bullpen, scoring three more runs in the sixth inning and one in the ninth while piling up 17 hits in a game that was reminiscent of the ugly series at Yankee Stadium two weekends ago.
It was mostly overkill, of course, since Kluber did not flinch on the way to his second shutout of the year. He carried a one-hit bid into the sixth inning and did so with such efficiency that he had thrown fewer than half as many pitches as Bundy, who was just no match for him on this night.
"There was nothing he [Bundy] could go to that he could depend on," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He worked his way through the first few innings, but his command was really frustrating for him. … He never really found his stuff consistently."
Bundy (7-6), who got off to a terrific start this season, suffered his fifth loss in seven games, though he had given up three runs or fewer in four of his previous six games. This was clearly his worst outing of the year, and it raised his ERA almost a half-run, from 3.29 to 3.72.
The Indians came in on a roll and entered the season as one of the favorites to go all the way this year, but Bundy said it had nothing to do with that.
"It's tough to beat anybody," he said. "It was just poor execution and pitches right down the middle in hitters counts tonight."
The start of the game was delayed for 29 minutes, but — by some accounts — the Orioles and Indians were lucky to start it at all.
The early forecasts were bad enough that the Aberdeen IronBirds postponed their opener and there was serious doubt the game at Oriole Park would be played.
The fourth-inning Indians rally started with three straight one-out doubles, the first of which gave third baseman José Ramírez a club record with doubles in seven consecutive games. The second was Edwin Encarnacion’s 1,500th career hit.
The Indians hit six doubles in a span of two innings — four in the fourth and two in the fifth — and they pumped up the volume in the fifth with home runs by Jason Kipnis and Santana.
The only Orioles hit through the first five innings was a single that Adam Jones poked through the right side of the infield. Kluber gave up his second hit of the game to Seth Smith in the sixth and allowed a single to Hyun Soo Kim in the eighth. All three hits came with two outs, and no Oriole advanced past first base.