Manager Buck Showalter's declaration that Dylan Bundy was the type of pitcher he'd select for “that situation” applied to many facets of the Orioles' 9-3 rout of the host Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Start with the fact that Bundy, 25, entered the game with three quality starts for a 0.70 ERA in four day games this season. Then mix in the fact that his ability to turn a lineup over multiple times can save a bullpen when he's pitching well. And if it wasn’t enough that the Orioles badly needed a win to avoid losing a series to the only club that entered this week with a worse record than their own, there was how calm Bundy was when it finally started to go their way.
"That's why if you can pick somebody to pitch in that situation — he went out there and pitched the bottom of the first like the seventh game of the World Series, and kept putting zeroes up there," Showalter said of Bundy, who allowed three runs in a complete-game win, the club’s first since the right-hander tossed a shutout Aug. 29. "That really relaxed people. That's why, I think, we were able to score three more runs and two more runs. And even defensively. You make runs matter by pitching well."
Orioles reporter Jon Meoli reports on the Orioles beating the White Sox, 9-3, and splitting the series. (Jon Meoli, Baltimore Sun video)
In a few more words, he said Bundy did just that.
"That's as good as you're going to see a guy pitch," Showalter said. "Especially when you see a guy three times, four times, five times around the order. That gives you an idea of the kind of repertoire he had today working for him. It was fun to watch. He had a good tempo. Strong. That was a good, old-school outing."
Bundy's 14 strikeouts were a career high and came one shy of the Orioles' franchise record since they moved to Baltimore, last set in 2007 by Erik Bedard.
"It was fun," Bundy said. "I was just trying to attack the hitters. Our offense gave us a pretty big lead today earlier. Just tried to attack hitters with the fastball early in the count and try to get ahead as best as I could."
He had it going early, too. Bundy said he could tell by how his location was early, and seeing the carry on his fastball and the bite on his slider. He retired the first 10 batters he faced with six strikeouts on 39 pitches before hitting Yolmer Sánchez on the hands with an 0-2 fastball to represent Chicago's first base runner.
Bundy then struck out José Abreu before fanning Daniel Palka with a wild pitch that allowed him to reach first, and watched as José Rondón followed with a three-run homer for his second home run in as many games.
He walked Sánchez in the sixth inning before erasing him with a double play, and struck out three around a two-out single up the middle by Omar Narváez for a scoreless seventh. His strikeout of left fielder Charlie Tilson to open the eighth inning was his 300th as a starting pitcher. Bundy reaching that plateau in 53 starts beat the previous franchise fastest to do so, Tom Phoebus, by a game.
Bundy and catcher Chance Sisco said they used some of the examples from the prior three games against the White Sox to dictate their game plan. Bundy, who threw 20 curveballs for just the second time in 11 starts, said that pitch and "heaters in" were gleaned from what he observed this week. He executed each well.
"He had pretty much all four pitches he had command of, so when he's got that going, you can do a lot with it," Sisco said.
Showalter said there was little trepidation sending him back out for the ninth to complete the 121-pitch complete game wasn't necessarily easy, but was made easier by what he saw from Bundy.
"You don't get to see many people carry their stuff that long," Showalter said. "The other team tells you when to take a guy out. It's not near as complicated as people think it is. They never really made a move that he was doing something that they were catching on to."
Bundy simply just went back out because they didn't tell him not to, and came back into the dugout after a high-five parade having allowed just five White Sox to reach base and making one mistake. He improved to 3-6 with a 4.45 ERA.