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Brandon Hyde's gut play with Dylan Bundy trumped the numbers, gave glimpse of Orioles manager's style

For nearly two months, Brandon Hyde has been more man-manager than game-manager, his top task to get an inexperienced Orioles team through each night until he can say he can got them through the season to kick off this long road toward rebuilding a contender.

Few games to this point have shed much light on how things might go for him when the Orioles elevate their ambition above where it is now. But Friday's 5-1 win over the Cleveland Indians illustrated a bit of his in-game feel as he rode starter Dylan Bundy past some in-game moments that have challenged him and the Orioles this year.

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Bundy not only blew past his season high of 96 pitches but was left in for some tenuous situations his third time through the order in the fifth and sixth innings, as Hyde showed the types of situations where he'd go with his gut over what the numbers prescribe.

Dylan Bundy pitched 5 2/3 quality innings in the Orioles' 5-1 win over the Indians on Friday night.

"I thought he was throwing the ball well," Hyde said. "I saw the velo staying — his fastball was still good. I thought he was still making pitches. I might have extended him a little longer than I wanted to just because of our situation tonight, but I thought he just had really good stuff into the sixth inning."

Bundy himself hasn't had much trouble with the third time through the order this season, as when he gets there, it's usually on a day when he's pitching well. The good version of Bundy often dominates those late innings more than the early ones, and his .241 batting average against in such situations entering Friday backed that up.

But with two outs in the fifth inning and Bundy's pitch count elevated, he allowed a single to leadoff man Francisco Lindor — the first player he faced a third time — then walked Jason Kipnis. That brought out pitching coach Doug Brocail in a situation when in so many other Orioles games this year, it might have brought Hyde for a pitching change.

Orioles pitchers entered Friday with the third-fewest pitches thrown the third time through the order, and their 147 batters faced in the third and fourth time through the order was also third fewest in the league, albeit with a respectable 3.47 ERA in such situations.

Hyde said in spring training he'd lean pretty heavily on the numbers, which historically dictate that a combination of pitchers tiring by that point in a game and the high-leverage situations that typically arise in those middle innings mean a fresh reliever is often the better option.

But he said he'd hold off on that if a pitcher was staying strong past those benchmarks, which Bundy was. His decision was partially motivated Friday by the fact that a doubleheader Wednesday and Dan Straily's short start (which was made shorter by the fact Hyde didn't want him to face Cleveland a third time) meant the bullpen was down to just three relievers — Branden Kline, Shawn Armstrong and Mychal Givens.

Bundy threw a season-high 118 pitches and was only chased when Jonathan Villar's second error of the game put two on with two out in the sixth inning. Kline, Armstrong and Givens mowed down Cleveland the rest of the way, with Kline's leadoff walk in the eighth inning the only blemish. The Orioles had one of their best-pitched games of the season as a result, and Hyde got to leave knowing that Friday was a rare occasion where everything worked out.

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"I think I've said that all along, if I see guys keep their stuff throughout and they're in position to win a game, I'd like to take guys as long as they can go," Hyde said. "That's what we did tonight."

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