If the Baltimore Orioles are able to get efforts out of Dylan Bundy (and all starters) like they got in last night’s 3-1 win over Toronto, they’ll be in good shape. There was zip on Bundy’s pitches all night, and he seemed to mow Toronto hitters down and get stronger as his outing went on. Bundy’s line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K.
The zero walks and eight strikeouts are obviously what stands out the most. I often drop the line nothing good ever happens after a walk, so the best way to avoid that is to not walk anyone. Bundy kept people off base for the most part all night, minimizing the potential for Toronto to score.
They did put one run across in the top of the third on a Travis RBI-single. And if that’s any indication, it appears that the Orioles are going to lead the league in falling victim to softly-hit RBI-singles once again. Travis smacked a dying quail-type of shot that fell into the cushion between first and second base and right field. Ironically, had he hit it harder the runner probably would have been out at home plate.
But the Orioles didn’t trail for long. With a runner on in the bottom of that third inning, Adam Jones hit his first home run of the season. Suddenly it was the Orioles who were in the lead, erasing the memory of that softly-hit RBI. One inning later Chris Davis hit his first home run of the season as well – this one a solo shot.
And when you have pitching as good as the Orioles got last night, you don’t need to worry about scoring only three runs. The Birds did however have a bit of a scare in the ninth when Zach Britton loaded the bases with only one out. Not only that, but in doing so he went over the twenty pitch number, which is a danger zone for many closers. For a short period, it appeared Toronto had the O’s right where they wanted them.
However Britton’s not the type of guy in whom you want to lose faith. The guy who didn’t blow a save last year kept his streak alive, and induced a game-ending double-play. When asked about Britton after the game, Buck Showalter didn’t hesitate to take up for his closer (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
I love the fact that he found a way to get it done. It’s hard. The ninth inning’s hard. You’re facing one of the best parts of the lineup anywhere in the American League. It’s hard. He gives up a sharp-hit ball to left field and a ground ball found a hole. A walk. Got a big strikeout on (Troy) Tulowitzki and he’s always a pitch from getting two outs.
It’s not always as easy as it may seem. It’s a different inning, it’s a different inning, and not just anybody can pitch it.
One way or the other, the O’s are now 2-0 on the incredibly young season as they go into yet another off day. It’s tough to say this means anything more than face value – starting the season 2-0. During spring training I said if you’re going to play exhibition games you might as well win them. So the same still applies; if you’re going to play these early season games, you might as well win them.