It’s way too soon to say that the Orioles’ pitching crisis is over, but it appears to have abated at a very opportune time.
Dylan Bundy was the latest O’s starter to turn in a strong start in a span of eight games that has featured six of them and his teammates went on a 15-hit spree to score a 7-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals tonight before 20,931 at Camden Yards.
Who knows where things go from here, but the club has come a surprising distance from where it was when this week started. The Orioles were pondering deals for closer Zach Britton and preparing to face the hottest team in baseball with a chance to get knocked completely out of the wild card picture.
Instead, they’ve won four games in a row and are now in position to go for a sweep of the three-game series when it concludes on Wednesday night. If they could pull that off, they would be just 2 ½ games out of the second American League wild card slot.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with a track record of pitching well. Hopefully, we’re getting into that period where they (do that), because we’re going to have to have that,’’ manager Buck Showalter said. “A couple more days, I might start looking at the standings again.
“We’ll see. So far so good. Until we take care of our business, it doesn’t matter where we are in the standings, but those are some good signs. When we’re trying to get work for people out of the bullpen, that’s a good sign.”
Bundy pitched eighth innings and gave up just a run on three hits to improve his record to 10-8, marking the second season in a row that he has won in double figures. He also dropped his ERA to 4.24. Brad Brach finished up in a non-save situation.
Showalter has given Bundy a few extended periods of rest, which he hopes will keep him fresh for the final two months of the regular season … and maybe beyond.
“He was strong,’’ Showalter said. “He was carrying a little more fastball. I was really surprised at the command he carried.”
The Orioles got right after Royals starter Ian Kennedy, scoring two runs in the first inning on a string of four straight one-out this that culminated with a run-scoring double by rookie Trey Mancini.
The Royals countered with a run in the third on an RBI single by Whit Merrifield, but the Orioles started to pile it on in the middle innings. Adam Jones drove in a run in the fourth with a single and Seth Smith keyed a three-run fifth with a long two-run double. Welington Castillo also had a run-scoring hit in the fifth and Smith added a third RBI in the eighth.
Schoop’s RBI binge: Jonathan Schoop continues to swing the hottest bat in the Orioles lineup and drove in the first run of the game with a single in the first inning. That RBI was his 78th of the season and instantly moved him to within just one of former teammate Nelson Cruz for the American League lead in that department. Cruz drove in a run later in the evening against the Rangers, so they remain separated by two RBI. Schoop remained in seventh place among major league hitters.
Beckham debut: New shortstop Tim Beckham took the field for the first time as an Oriole toight and delivered a multi-hit game, with a single and a double in four at-bats. He did not get a lot of action at short, but ranged far to his right to flag down a sharp bouncer by Salvador Perez and threw back across his body to get a force out at second base. The throw, however, almost pulled Schoop off the bag.