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Dylan Bundy takes another step by completing seven scoreless innings

Orioles rookie Dylan Bundy allowed just one hit over seven innings in the Orioles 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

Dylan Bundy had been there before — six days earlier, in fact. After 15 up he had sent 15 down in a pitching duel against the Colorado Rockies' Jon Gray.

In the midst of his best start as a big-leaguer, Bundy left two changeups high in the strike zone, and Nick Hundley and David Dahl hit them out for solo home runs.

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This time, Bundy found himself in almost the same situation. An Ian Desmond walk was the only base runner the Texas Rangers managed in the first five innings, and Desmond was caught stealing at second on a strikeout pitch.

This time, Bundy pitched the sixth and seventh without a blemish, turning in his longest start as a professional and one of the Orioles' best of the season in a 5-1 win Tuesday at Camden Yards.

"Just to get six, I was pleased with that," Bundy said. "Went back out there for the seventh and just had to focus a little bit more and locate a little better."

The 23-year-old right-hander cruised through the first three innings on 31 pitches — 24 strikes. He struck out the game's first batter and then froze Carlos Beltran with an outside fastball to end the top half of the first.

In all, he retired 20 of 22 batters he faced, exiting the game after seven innings and striking out seven on 88 pitches. Elvis Andrus' line-drive single in the sixth was the only hit Bundy allowed, relieving manager Buck Showalter of the decision between taking Bundy out in the middle of a no-hitter and leaving him in, risking arm damage. Asked if he was disappointed or comforted by that, Showalter said with a smile he'd never tell.

"The seventh was his last inning regardless," Showalter said. "That was a pretty good progression for him. He almost got through the sixth inning last time. We had [relief pitcher Brad Brach] up and he was kind of going hitter to hitter."

Until that hit, the Rangers hadn't made contact with Bundy's pitches or — even better for Bundy's pitch count — made soft contact early in the count. Other than the single, just five balls left the infield in Bundy's seven innings, only one of which was hit hard, right at center fielder Adam Jones.

Bundy claimed he didn't notice the running no-hitter, but the announced crowd of 22,230 did, giving him rounds of applause after the single, after he finished the sixth and again as he walked back to the dugout for the last time.

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In just four big-league outings, Bundy has now worked his way up from 3 1/3 innings to seven without reaching the 90-pitch threshold.

"Mainly just getting deeper into games and getting my arm built up for that kind of stuff and being able to do that every five days, I think is the biggest part," Bundy said. "Pitches still haven't got above 90 yet, so … still gotta go above 90 pitches sometimes, so we'll see how it goes."

Showalter couldn't claim to have seen this coming when the Orioles inserted Bundy into the starting rotation after the All-Star break.

"Nobody knew," Showalter said. "We're not that smart. And who knows what's going to happen next one? I wish it was that predictive. If it was, it would be a lot easier. But you never know."

While Bundy is unlikely to take a no-hitter into the sixth for a third straight start in his next outing, he's building his confidence with every outing. Asked if he could have started the eighth inning Tuesday, Bundy of course said he "absolutely" could have.

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