Dylan Bundy made just one mistake Monday night — a middle-cut fastball that former Oriole Steve Pearce hit into the left-field stands — but the Orioles right-hander deserved a far better outcome than the team's 7-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
A sparse announced crowd of 7,912, the smallest in Camden Yards' 27-year history (not counting the no-fans game during the city's unrest in 2015), watched another fine performance by Bundy, who again did everything necessary to put the Orioles in position to win.
With the Orioles bullpen decimated from 11 2/3 innings of work in Sunday's win at Yankee Stadium, the team needed a deep outing from Bundy, who recorded his third straight quality start in as many appearances this season.
"He was outstanding," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He was great. He was outstanding in a time of need. He knew what was at stake. We had five or six guys down in the bullpen we weren't going to pitch tonight. … Dylan dialed it up for what we needed. That was much appreciated by the bullpen, for sure, but we certainly would have liked to reward his effort. We just scored one run tonight, regardless of what you want to say about the pitching."
The Orioles' offense didn't do its part, stranding 11 base runners and going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The momentum the Orioles built at Yankee Stadium by winning three of four games in the the Bronx — including two in extra innings — quickly dissipated in the cold and spitting rain at Camden Yards. The Orioles (4-7) went into the top of the ninth trailing by one run before allowing five runs in the inning, including a grand slam by Josh Donaldson off left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr.
In his seven strong innings, Bundy had held the Blue Jays (7-4) to just the two runs on four hits. He struck out a season-high 10 batters and walked two.
"It was decent," Bundy said. "Yeah, it was one mistake there, but I gave up more runs than we had, so that's baseball, I guess."
Bundy faced the minimum number of batters after allowing Pearce's two-run homer in the third inning. Justin Smoak, who had a leadoff single in the seventh, was the only base runner Bundy allowed on over the final 10 hitters he faced.
Bundy (0-1) is still seeking his first win of the season despite posting a 1.35 ERA in his first three starts of the season.
"I don't look at my wins. I look more at the team wins," Bundy said. "It's not a big deal if I win as long as the team wins. You can't really look at it like that. You've just got to go out there and give your team a chance to win every time you're out there."
He established his fastball early, but his slider was the perfect chase pitch Monday. He recorded 12 swinging strikes on his slider, and five of his strikeouts came on the pitch, all of them swinging and three of them on pitches down and out of the strike zone.
"I was trying not to show them every single pitch there in the first inning," Bundy said. "[Catcher] Caleb [Joseph] had a good game plan again tonight, and trying to execute as best as we could."
He did help himself early defensively. After putting runners on at first and third to open the second, Bundy fielded a come-backer off the bat of Russell Martin and threw to third, catching Pearce off the bag for an out. Bundy then loaded the bases by walking Kevin Pillar, but he struck out Devon Travis on a slider and induced a fly ball out from Aledmys Díaz to end the inning.
A leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson in the third came back to bite Bundy. Even though the 25-year-old struck out the next two hitters he faced, Donaldson swinging and Smoak looking, Bundy fell behind Pearce, who had the green light on a 3-0 pitch and sent it over the left-field fence.
"Up there, I really wasn't thinking he was going to swing 3-0, and he did," Bundy said. "And I left it right down the middle for him to hit over the fence. Just a mistake I made, and a costly one. ... You have to learn from your mistakes."