On balance this season, days when Orioles starter Dylan Bundy has been as good as he was Wednesday far outnumber the bad ones.
The same cannot be said for the offense. Yet on a sleepy afternoon in Queens, the Orioles scratched together a run that was enough to separate their own floundering offense from that of the host New York Mets in a 1-0 win at Citi Field to reward Bundy for what’s become the expectation for him this season.
“Dylan’s a good pitcher, period,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Bundy (4-7) had just pitched out of his only jam of the game — a bases-loaded situation created by a two-out double, an intentional walk and an unintentional one — with his fifth strikeout of the day when the Orioles (19-41) broke the tie with Mets starter Zack Wheeler.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones has had a challenging stretch in center field over the past week or so, but manager Buck Showalter said it's not at the point where he or Jones needs to change anything.
Pedro Álvarez, pinch-hitting for Bundy, rolled a ball to the second base hole that was ruled a single after Amed Rosario bobbled it and couldn't get it to first in time. Craig Gentry ran for Álvarez, and stole second base before advancing to third on a single to left by Adam Jones. Gentry scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Manny Machado.
Partially because the Mets couldn't produce such an inning — and haven't in several games — and partially because Bundy didn't let them, it was enough for the Orioles' second straight win, giving them a two-game sweep and just their second road-series win of the season.
“It was a huge run for us,” Machado said. “We needed it. Obviously, the score dictated it, but this is a big one for us.”
Bundy didn't have his typical wipeout stuff, but mixed in all four of his pitches and didn't allow much hard contact to speak of en route to seven sparkling, scoreless innings. When the Mets (27-32) did reach on him, he wasn't fazed. A two-out walk in the first inning was followed quickly by his first strikeout. When Asdrúbal Cabrera doubled to open the fourth inning, Bundy got three lazy flyouts on eight pitches to leave him at second.
June 6, 2018 - The Orioles beat the Mets, 1-0, and sweep the two-game series. (Denise Sanders, Baltimore Sun video)
It was only the seventh inning that got stressful, and that was hardly his own doing. A two-out double by Kevin Plawecki led Showalter to walk Adrián González intentionally to get to the pitcher's spot. That chased Wheeler, who had pitched seven scoreless innings of his own, for José Bautista, who walked before Bundy struck out No. 9 hitter Rosario on three pitches.
Bundy made his eighth quality start out of 13 this year, and the outing was his sixth of one run or none. It also gives him as many outings since his disastrous three-start stretch when he ceded nine home runs in nine innings and 19 earned runs as he had before it. In the five starts preceding it, Bundy had a 1.42 ERA in 31 2/3 innings. In the five starts since that bad run, he's pitched 35 innings and allowed 10 runs for a 2.57 ERA. Without those blips, he’d have a 3.38 ERA this year. Even with it, it’s down to 4.04.
Showalter said the streakiness of Bundy’s season doesn’t even warrant mention.
“Every great pitcher has those outings,” Showalter said. “[Even] good pitchers. ... It’s hard to do. These things are hard to do.
“When a starting pitcher has a consistent year, they win Cy Youngs. That’s how it goes. Not many of those guys that get into that subject. Dylan, that was fun to watch. He had a feel for it.”
Bundy said he feels far removed from those days when he wasn’t providing this to the Orioles on a regular basis.
“I've tweaked some things in my bullpen and stuff, but as far as pitches-wise, it doesn't feel much different,” he said. “Obviously, I was just leaving the ball up against those teams and got roughed up pretty good. I'm just trying to focus and have a good mentality going out there.”
After Alex Cobb's six strong innings Tuesday, albeit against these struggling Mets — losers of six straight — the Orioles have now had their offense bailed out by the rotation twice in as many days. Scoreless appearances for Richard Bleier and Brad Brach for the second straight day kept it that way.
“I’m not going to overanalyze that we only scored, what, three runs?” Showalter said. “We’ll take the two wins. We played two crisp ballgames. We did a lot of things that we haven’t been doing that we need to do better. … We’re going to take some pleasure in winning regardless. It’s always tough to win on the road. We did a lot of little things we haven’t been doing.”