Toronto — Going into Tuesday night’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy acknowledged he’s struggled finding answers to his recent struggles.
Bundy’s performance at Rogers Centre — a third consecutive start in which he allowed seven earned runs and failed to get out of the sixth innings — was another head-scratcher in the Orioles’ 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
Bundy failed to get a batter out in the fifth inning Tuesday night after allowing back-to-back homers. With three homers allowed Tuesday, his major league leading total increased to 33. Bundy’s night ended with him hunched over in the Orioles dugout staring at the ground after another middle-innings exit.
“[His resolve is] tested now,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “I can tell. It's a challenge for him right now, I can tell. It's probably one of the tougher periods he's had, other than when he was hurt.”
The Orioles (37-89), now 52 games under .500, are one loss away from going winless at Rogers Centre this season. They enter Wednesday afternoon’s series finale 0-9 in Toronto this season, and have lost 11 of 12 to the Blue Jays overall.
While Bundy’s four-seam fastball velocity has diminished slightly — he’s recorded his three lowest four-seamer velocity averages this season within his last six starts — Bundy struggled with both his command and his pitch execution Tuesday, leaving far too many balls up in the zone, including on two of the three homers he allowed.
“In between starts, you’ve got to keep on working and eventually it will figure itself out,” Bundy said. “It's tough, but we're all going to have these stretches. You just try to limit them. Right now, this one is going on for quite some time. So hopefully in the future I can figure this out quicker and get better faster.”
The Orioles defense didn’t help. Second baseman Jonathan Villar dropped a popup in shallow right field by the Blue Jays’ second batter in the bottom of the first inning.
Newly acquired left fielder John Andreoli, making his first start with the Orioles, looked uncomfortable in left field. He misplayed a leadoff single off the bat of Kendrys Morales in Toronto’s three-run fourth. Third baseman Renato Núñez booted a grounder that prolonged that inning.
Still, Bundy (7-12) did little to help his own cause, allowing 10 hits.
Mixing pitches has made Bundy effective, and going into Tuesday, he said he’d like to throw his curveball and changeup more often. But those two pitches accounted for just 16 of his 72 pitches Tuesday.
“He can’t be boxed into two pitches,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “Really nobody in the league can do that and only have two pitches available. You’ve got to throw the curveball and you’ve got to throw the changeup. … It’s a matter of little things here and there that are adding up, so when you don’t have the consistency of the shape and you’re not pinpointing the location of the pitch, it can cause some bad situations that you don’t want to get into. Normally he’s had one or the other when he hasn’t been spot on. Maybe he has the shape of the pitch but is missing location, you have more room for error. So just right now, there’s not a lot of room for error.”
Over his past three starts, Bundy has seen his ERA balloon nearly a full run, from 4.38 to 5.31. In his eight starts since returning from the disabled list, Bundy owns a 9.08 ERA.
Bundy maintains he’s healthy and that he’s not trying to pitch through any physical hindrance.
“If there is, I haven’t found it yet,” Bundy said. “Physically I’m fine. The shape of the pitches I’m happy with in the bullpen and in the game, except for the changeup. I've been working on the changeup all year and it just hasn't quite been there for me like it has in the past.”
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Bundy hung a 1-2 slider to Aledmys Díaz with one out in the second inning, allowing a solo homer that gave the Blue Jays a two-run lead.
After Billy McKinney’s two-run single fueled a three-run fourth inning, Bundy lasted just three pitches into the fifth. Justin Smoak hit a first-pitch, 91-mph fastball that caught too much of the outer part of the plate the opposite way for a home run. Two pitches later, Morales also went the other way, taking an elevated changeup over the left-field fence.
Bundy’s outing left Showalter looking for answers as well. He noted that the club has given Bundy additional rest as often as possible. He’s received at least one extra day of rest in five of his six starts since the All-Star break, including Tuesday, when he received one extra day.
“We've attacked that and we'll continue to look at if we need to do it again,” Showalter said.
Orioles reliever Ryan Meisinger allowed a homer in the fifth to McKinney, a solo blast that was his first big league home run.
Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio held the Orioles to two runs on six hits over seven innings. After allowing Trey Mancini’s one-out single in the third, Gaviglio allowed just one hit, a solo homer to rookie Cedric Mullins.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.