July 6, 2017: The Orioles lose to the Twins, 6-4. They are tied for last place in the AL East. (Denise Sanders, Baltimore Sun video)
Dylan Bundy likely deserved a better fate than the one he received Thursday night at Target Field. But regardless, the Orioles right-hander went into the All-Star break reeling after a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
With their fourth straight loss — and sixth in seven games — the Orioles (40-45) fell to a season-worst five games below .500 after Bundy allowed six runs in the third inning.
For Bundy, it marked the fourth time in his past five starts that he didn't get beyond five innings and allowed five runs or more.
Bundy allowed three straight run-scoring hits in a 32-pitch third inning. While a brain cramp of a defensive play helped facilitate the big inning, Bundy bore the blame.
"That was horrible," Bundy said. "You give up six runs in one inning, that's kind of pathetic. You've got to limit those and that was kind of unacceptable."
For an Orioles team that can't find its way out of a two-month tailspin, they are now tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for last place in the American League East, 8½ games out of first, and fading fast.
"We've been playing lousy and no one's going to give you any room to breathe," said designated hitter Mark Trumbo, whose two-run homer in the second gave the Orioles an early 2-0 lead. "We better get with the program. … We're not playing to our capabilities all the way around — starting pitching, hitting, defense. We need to do a much better job and we need to do it quickly."
Bundy had retired six of the first seven batters he faced before putting the first two runners on when he hit Jason Castro and allowed a single to Byron Buxton. Two batters later, Robbie Grossman hit a slow grounder to first baseman Trey Mancini, who went to second in hopes of an inning-ending double play, but Buxton beat the throw to load the bases.
Instead of having two on and two out, Bundy faced the bases loaded with one out, and then allowed three straight run-scoring hits, including a two-run triple by Eduardo Escobar on a ball that took a weird ricochet off the right-field wall and rolled toward the right-field corner.
Jorge Polanco hit another grounder that Mancini tried to turn into a double play, but shortstop Paul Janish couldn't complete it, allowing Escobar to score with the sixth run of the inning.
Twins starter Jose Berrios (8-2) allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings.
"That one inning was a big inning for them," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's one of those things where errors don't show up, but we just threw the ball to the wrong base a couple times. Dylan, I know he'll kick himself there. There was a game there to be won. Berrios is a good pitcher, but we had him where we needed to get him. But they've been pitching well out of the bullpen. They did again tonight."
The Orioles are focused on giving Bundy additional rest around the break. His start Thursday was made on six days' rest and he will receive 11 days of rest before making his next start because he will be slotted to pitch the fifth game of the second half. Bundy already has pitched 108 innings this season, just off his season total from last year (109 2/3).
But Bundy (8-8) has already shown signs of regression over the past three weeks. After posting a 3.05 ERA over his first 13 starts this season — including 11 quality starts — Bundy has an 8.53 ERA over his past five starts, only one of those outings qualifying as quality.
"It wasn't the ending I wanted, like you said, but it's a healthy first half and I'm throwing the ball well. But sometimes it's not going where I need to," Bundy said. "Got to work on that in the second half and that's what I'll do."
Trumbo gets green light: Swinging on a 3-0 pitch from Berrios, Trumbo gave the Orioles an early 2-0 lead when he took a 95 mph fastball over the center-field fence in the second inning.
Before Trumbo's blast — which was estimated at 412 feet — Adam Jones reached when Twins first baseman Miguel Sano dropped a throw from Escobar at third.
The home run was Trumbo's third in his past seven games. He now has 13 homers and 42 RBIs this season.
Mancini mashes: Mancini hit leadoff doubles in the fourth and sixth innings Thursday and scored both times, recording his 24th multihit game of the season.
Even though Mancini helped the Orioles peck away at the Twins' 6-2 lead, he failed to do major damage with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
The Orioles rallied with two outs in the inning — back-to-back singles by Jones and Jonathan Schoop were followed by an eight-pitch walk by Trumbo — but Mancini, who entered the night leading the AL with a .408 average with runners in scoring position, grounded out to end the inning.
Schoop to short: Before Thursday's game, Showaltersaid Schoop could shift from second to shortstop in order to get newly recalled second baseman Johnny Giavotella — and his bat — in the game.
And it didn't take long for that situation to play out, as Schoop shifted to shortstop in the bottom of the eighth inning — his first appearance at shortstop as a major leaguer — after Giavotella pinch hit in the top of the inning and remained in the game.
Schoop, who had three hits Thursday, last played shortstop in the Arizona Fall League after the 2013 season, playing 11 games there. He also made 20 starts at shortstop for Triple-A Norfolk in 2013 before earning his first big league call-up that season.