Dylan Bundy stretches out but Orioles can't hold off Red Sox in 6-4 Grapefruit League loss

Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy has been looking for a performance like this all spring, and it appears to have come at just the right time.

Bundy, who had allowed 10 earned runs over his previous two starts, held the Boston Red Sox to just a run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in the Orioles’ 6-4 Grapefruit League loss Wednesday night before a sellout crowd at Ed Smith Stadium.


Just for good measure, he left the game and threw enough extra pitches in the bullpen to replicate an 80-pitch outing. Afterward, he confirmed the obvious — that it was the best he has pitched and felt during the exhibition season.

“Absolutely,” Bundy said. “All my pitches tonight I was executing a lot better. Not one in particular, but in general just executing where I wanted the ball to go.”

He’ll get one more start before opening the regular season in New York, but said he feels like he’s very close to being ready right now.

“I’d say pretty close,” he said. “There were a couple of backup sliders I threw there in that third inning ahead in the count that you’ve got to get down and away for a swing and a miss or weaker contact, but overall I felt pretty good.”

The only time he was in any real trouble came in the third inning when he allowed three straight no-out singles, but got a double-play ball and a strikeout to escape with just one run across.

“Dylan was outstanding,’’ manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think he was 14 for 19 first-pitch strikes. I thought he had a really nice mix. A lot of unpredictable pitches in certain counts. I just thought he did a really nice job. He had extra hop on his fastball that he didn’t have early in the spring, so that was great to see.”

Mullins’ big night

Center fielder Cedric Mullins led off the Orioles’ half of the first inning with a home run, bunted for a hit in the third and doubled and scored in the sixth. He came up in the seventh needing a triple to hit for the cycle, but flied out to center.

Mullins had not had an impressive spring at the plate. He came into the game slashing .125/.222/.325, but the home run was his third and the 3-for-4 performance raised his average to .182.

“We’re just trying to pump confidence into him,’’ Hyde said. “Staying positive. Cedric’s got some pull juice and he’s done that a few times this spring. Loved the drag bunt. That was fantastic. I just want him to play the game and incorporate all of it. Be a threat at the plate. Be a threat on the bases. Play a great center field. And he’s getting a lot better in a lot of areas.”

Jonathan Villar delivered the biggest blow of the night for the Orioles, hammering a two-run double in the sixth to give his team a short-lived 3-1 lead.

Smith Jr. stays hot

Dwight Smith Jr. hasn’t had a lot of time to make a big impression this spring, but he’s made the most of his opportunities at the plate. He entered the game in the seventh inning and homered in his first at-bat.

It was his second homer as an Oriole this spring and his sixth hit in 13 at-bats.

Sloppy eighth

Everything was going well for the Orioles until the Red Sox took advantage of a dropped double-play relay, an error, two passed balls and a wild pitch to score four times in the eighth inning.

Reliever Jimmy Yacabonis appeared to be on the verge of getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a fairly routine double-play bouncer, but first baseman J.C. Escarra could not hold onto a low relay and it turned into the inning that wouldn’t end.

Around the horn

The announced crowd of 8,623 was the fifth largest to attend an Orioles exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium. … Richard Bleier made his fifth appearance of the spring, replacing Bundy and getting the final two outs of the sixth inning. … Mark Trumbo had a single in two at-bats. He is 2-for-10 since rejoining the lineup after 2018 knee surgery.