Dylan Bundy would obviously like to be more economical with his pitches once the regular season begins, but the opportunity to throw 84 pitches in his fourth spring training appearance Monday afternoon was valuable.
Bundy recorded his best Grapefruit League appearance of the spring, allowing one run while scattering seven hits as he became the first Orioles starter of the exhibition season to complete five innings in an 8-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Kind of in a good way, it’s good to throw that many pitches even though it’s only five innings,” Bundy said. “My arm felt great. My body felt good. I was pretty happy with all of my pitches after about the third inning. The fourth inning, I kind of lost some command out there, but ended up getting through it.”
Bundy allowed hits to four of the first seven batters he faced — giving up his only run when Gregory Polanco’s two-out single in the first scored Josh Harrison, who opened the game with a double — but then settled, allowing just four more base runners over his final four innings.
“The curveball was there for me today for the [first-pitch] strikes about four or five times,” Bundy said. “And that allows me to use other pitches later in the at-bat.”
After allowing five runs in each of his first two Grapefruit League starts — a pair of pitching lines that looked worse than they actually were — Bundy extended to four innings and 63 pitches in simulated game in his last start. While he didn’t put much stock in his first two outings, Bundy said it was satisfying to see results this time.
“Yeah, it always feels good to leave the game with the lead,” Bundy said. “Obviously it feels great, but mainly I was just happy with the way the pitches were moving today and the location of them today. Overall, it felts a lot better than the last two outings.”
Bundy had runners at first and second with one out in the fourth, but escaped without allowing a run. David Freese reached on shortstop Luis Sardiñas’ fielding error to open the inning, and after striking out Colin Moran looking, Bundy allowed a single to Francisco Cervelli. But he worked out of the inning by getting a 6-4-3 double-play ball from Sean Rodríguez.
Bundy allowed five runs in his last Grapefruit League start, which was also against the Pirates, on March 2 but the seven hits he allowed that day were much more damaging. Most of the five runs he allowed in his first start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Feb. 24 came on a grand slam by Jorge Alfaro after allowing two walks.
“I thought he continues to have a good spring,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s just been solid. Go gets some more velocity when he needs it. All of his pitches were available to him today. He’s had a feel for all of them. In those first two innings a lot of pitchers would have given up three, four, five runs. He gave up one.”
Despite a stifling wind Sunday, Bundy allowed no walks.
“I think the command is better,” Bundy said. “When you’re not walking guys and then giving up homers, it makes it a lot easier, I think. We had a good double-play ball that they turned for me, I was able to get out of that inning.”