Bundy's outing vs. Dodgers unravels in 6th

Two runs score on passed-ball strikeout to spoil promising start

September 13th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Drenched with drizzle as he walked off the Oriole Park mound, 's face was stoic. As he plodded toward the home dugout, Bundy wiped some rain from his craw but mostly looked down, doing what he could to conceal the obvious: He could not believe what just happened.

The reason why was obvious, so much so that when asked of it later, Brandon Hyde said: "Where do I start?"

The Orioles manager then recounted the bizarre series of events that led to the 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on Thursday night, when the sixth inning spiraled away from Bundy largely due to factors outside his control. The short of it was this: Over the span of his 29 pitches, Bundy made enough of them to record five outs and keep a 2-2 game knotted in the sixth. Instead, he left having only gotten two outs, suddenly down two runs and on his way to loss No. 14.

"He pitched absolutely outstanding," Hyde said. "We just gave them extra outs and a couple runs. It's disappointing. He pitched out of that jam twice."

The long of it was weirder: With two outs and the bases loaded, Bundy struck out Russell Martin swinging on a 3-2 fastball above the zone. The pitch eluded 's glove, skipped off umpire Sam Holbrook's right shoulder and settled near the backstop.

Cody Bellinger scored the go-ahead run easily from third. When Bundy did not cover home plate, Corey Seager galloped home from second. What left the hand as an inning-ending punchout transformed into a rare two-run passed ball.

"I thought it was a strikeout," Bundy said. "From where I was, I couldn't really see where the ball was."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was harsher.

"Bundy threw the ball well, got frustrated and, to be quite honest, quit on the play," Roberts said. "To take advantage of it was big."

Against the backdrop of Rio Ruiz's fielding error a batter prior, Bellinger's improbable game-tying bloop hit earlier in the frame and Anthony Santander's overthrown relay on the same play, Hyde guessed "Dylan was kind of stunned" by how his final final moments on the mound transpired Thursday.

Bundy mostly demurred, calling it "not that frustrating."

Perhaps both perspectives are apt. Though highly unusual, Thursday also typified the kind of season it's been for Bundy, who has been stung by bad luck, poor defense behind him and pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly home ballparks. For a pitcher, it's a terrible trifecta, one that's largely masked the strides Bundy has taken in 2019.

Now nearing the end of his third full season as a starter, Bundy sits at 6-14 with a 4.99 ERA in 28 games. His home run rate is improved but still among the American League's highest. Same for his WHIP and FIP. But in the underlying metrics, there is evidence that suggests Bundy simply deserves better.

His hard-hit rate is in the 89th percentile, and his slider is one of the more effective in baseball. The gap between Bundy's expected and actual outcomes is one of the largest in the game; he's allowed just a .508 slugging at home compared to .420 on the road. Often extended due to Baltimore's shaky bullpen behind him, Bundy's ERA from the sixth inning on is nearly twice as high it is in innings one through five.

"You've just got to keep making pitches," Bundy said, when asked about Thursday. "It's just some well-placed balls that they hit, and that's just kind of how baseball goes."