It's not necessarily a surprise, but one of the highlights of the first two weeks of the season are the strides right-hander Dylan Bundy has made through his first three starts.
Bundy had his first scoreless start of the year, tossing six shutout innings in the Orioles' 11-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. Rookie Trey Mancini hit two of the Orioles' four home runs to lead the offense.
With the win, the Orioles (8-3) left Canada having taken three of four from the struggling Blue Jays (2-10) this series. The Orioles have won five of their six meetings with Toronto this season and have now won four of five overall.
Mixing his pitches with precision, and continuing to unveil a devastating slider/cutter, Bundy held a struggling Toronto lineup to just five hits despite not having his best fastball.
"He had the slider and the curveball and he had a couple changeups," manager Buck Showalter said. "He reached back to get a little [extra] fastball, but to make the evaluation that you're not carrying that plus fastball on a given night [was important]."
Bundy had success missing bats with his slider, inducing eight whiffs out of the 25 sliders he threw. The Blue Jays put his slider in play just once.
"Yeah I think everybody saw against Boston it wasn't as good as this outing or the first one against Toronto," Bundy said. "It's a work in progress, like I've said from the get-go in spring. Hopefully it keeps getting better."
Over three outings this season – all of them quality starts – the 24-year-old Bundy (2-1) has a 1.86 ERA and has limited hitters to a .239 batting average.
"He's so much more than a thrower," Showalter said. "It's been great to watch he and Kevin [Gausman] grow as pitchers and manipulators of the baseball in the zone with different weapons. It's part of that process when they figure out that more is not always better."
Bundy struck out six and walked just one, improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season to 5.67.
He wrangled out of a quick first inning, holding the Blue Jays scoreless after putting runners at the corners just two batters into the game. But Bundy struck out Jose Bautista swinging on a slider and then induced an inning-ending double play on his second pitch to Kendrys Morales.
"You've got guys on first and third with no outs, you've got to do something to limit the damage," Bundy said. "You can't get strikeouts and you can't always count on a strikeout, so if you can really get a ground ball here and there, it can really save your line and it also helps the team out. Let the defense work. We have a great defense out there, so I'm going to let them work."
Bundy received all the help he'd need as the Orioles hit four homers. The offensive surge came after Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ left the game with one out in the fourth inning with left elbow soreness.
Three-hit day for Hardy: Benefitting from a day off Saturday, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had a three-hit day with a pair of doubles and a single hitting out of the No. 9 spot.
Hardy is hitting .438 (7-for-16) over his past four games after opening the season 2-for-19 in his first 10 games. He didn't have an extra-base hit in that span, but has homered and doubled twice in four games since then.
Over the last four games, Hardy has raised his batting average 152 points from .105 to .257.
Crichton makes debut: Right-hander Stefan Crichton made his major-league debut, allowing a pair of runs while pitching the seventh and eighth innings.
Crichton was in trouble in the seventh, allowing a run on a sacrifice fly, but he stranded runners on the corners by striking out Kevin Pillar.
"I think he'll be better each time out," Showalter said of Crichton. "He has good stuff."