Since the Orioles reeled off a four-game winning streak during their season-opening road trip, they had won back-to-back games only twice, but Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers seemed like a prime opportunity to double up again.
The Tigers have been mired in deep slump and the O’s were feeling pretty good about themselves after opening the homestand with an uplifting victory on Memorial Day, but during the early stages of their rebuilding effort, momentum has been a very fickle thing.
Sure enough, Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd stopped them in their tracks and the Tigers evened the series with a 3-0 victory before an announced 8,106 at Oriole Park.
Boyd pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just six singles on the way to his fifth victory of the year. Orioles starter Dylan Bundy also pitched well and equaled a season high with eight strikeouts, but a couple of two-out RBI hits in the first two innings were really all it took to send him to his sixth loss in eight decisions.
Bundy completed seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. It was the fifth start in a row in which he surrendered three runs or fewer, but he obviously didn’t have a lot of wiggle room against the top starter on a struggling Tigers pitching staff.
“I feel good with my mechanics … I feel good about the shape of the pitches,” said Bundy, who recorded his 500th career strikeout in the seventh inning. “I’m just going out there every fifth day and trying to give your club a chance to win.”
He fell behind in the first inning after left fielder Christin Stewart banged a one-out double off the out-of-town scoreboard and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera brought him home with a two-out single to right. Bundy got the first two outs of the second before catcher Grayson Greiner singled and No. 9 hitter JaCoby Jones doubled him home.
The other run Bundy surrendered came on a solo homer by leadoff hitter Niko Goodrum in the fifth, which ended a rare string of 15 consecutive homerless innings by the O’s pitching staff.
“Bundy did a great job,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Seven innings. Held them to three runs and gave us a chance to win the game. A tough time offensively tonight off a really good starter who’s throwing the ball really well right now. So, a tough time mustering any rallies and didn’t hit many balls hard all night.”
Boyd didn’t face a serious threat until he walked Pedro Severino to lead off the bottom of the seventh and gave up a single to newly promoted DJ Stewart to bring the potential tying run to the plate with no one out. That brought an end to Boyd’s evening, but two Tigers relievers quickly bailed him out of the jam.
Stewart, who moved right into the lineup after arriving from Triple-A Norfolk, accounted for half of the Orioles’ offensive production against Boyd with singles in each of his three at-bats. Combined with his 10-for-40 performance at the major league level last September, his 3-for-4 performance Tuesday raised his career batting average in the big leagues to .295.
“That was impressive,” Hyde said. “I just like the way he hangs in there … stays on the ball really good. It’s not an easy assignment in your first game in 2019 in the big leagues to face a left-hander like that, and he had some really good at-bats all night. Outstanding.”
Stewart said after the game that he prides himself on hanging tough against left-handed pitching, but never imagined he would get off to a start like this.
“Any time you can get one hit, it’s a good night, but three?” Stewart said. “That’s a really good night, but unfortunately we were not able to get the win.”
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Jonathan Villar also had a multihit game, reaching base three times on two singles and a walk.