The Orioles beat the Red Sox, 2-0 on Friday, April 21. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
The oft-maligned Orioles starting rotation continues to exceed the minimal expectations that followed it into this season, and right-hander Dylan Bundy continued to stack up quality starts Friday night at Oriole Park.
Bundy (3-1) pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed just six hits on the way to his third victory of the year, a tense 2-0 triumph over the Boston Red Sox before an announced 34,442 that kept the Orioles atop the American League East and maintained their grip on the best win-loss record in either league.
He has a quality start in each of his four appearances and has allowed more than one run in only one of those games. He came out for the eighth inning and allowed a leadoff single to catcher Christian Vasquez before giving way to left-hander Donnie Hart and right-hander Mychal Givens.
Brad Brach, who saved both Orioles victories in Cincinnati, came on for the third straight night and converted another opportunity in place of injured closer Zach Britton.
Though Bundy had to work out of some early trouble, he cruised through the middle innings, retiring 14 of 16 batters before the hit that ended his evening. It was the Orioles' seventh quality start in the past eight games.
"Really, I just had to use all my pitches tonight,'' Bundy said. "It's a tough lineup over there and it's tough lineup to get out. They just battled from Pitch One and they battled me the whole night. It was a tough one. I got some double-play balls that my defense helped me out on and got me out of some jams and I think that was really the key to the game."
Meanwhile, the offense continued to dole out support sparingly. Adam Jones gave the O's the lead with a single in the third inning that brought home Craig Gentry, who had doubled down the right-field line with one out. Manny Machado doubled that lead with a two-out, bases-empty homer off Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz in the fifth.
Controversy flared in the eighth inning when Machado spiked Red Sox veteran Dustin Pedroia on a hard slide at second base. Pedroia had to be helped off the field after suffering an injury to his left calf, and the Red Sox obviously were not happy about it.
Machado said afterward that it was unintentional and texted Pedroia from the clubhouse to see whether he was all right. It remains to be seen whether there will be any payback this weekend.
"I'm not going to change the way I play,'' Machado said. "I'm going to keep playing hard. I'm going to do what I need to do to help my team win. It was not intentional. Just look at the replay and you'll see it. ... I would never want to hurt a guy like that."
Pomeranz, who had allowed just four hits over six innings in a victory over the Orioles in his first regular-season start, pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits.
The Red Sox will send knuckleballer Steven Wright to the mound Saturday night for his second start of the year against the Orioles. In his earlier start, he lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up eight earned runs in a 12-5 blowout at Fenway Park.
Double play trifecta: Bundy allowed a single to the Red Sox leadoff hitter in each of the first three innings, but the Orioles defense had his back, turning double plays in each of those innings to get him out of trouble.
He worked out of the most dangerous early threat after Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the second inning with singles to put runners at the corners with no one out.
Bundy struck out Pablo Sandoval and got Vasquez to ground into a routine 6-4-2 DP.
Manny's third: Machado has been showing signs of breaking out of an early hitting funk, and he nearly delivered a run-scoring extra-base hit in the third when he hammered a line drive that Bradley caught in center.
Machado came up in the fifth inning and homered to left field to increase the Orioles' lead to 2-0.