BALTIMORE -- This is what the Orioles had envisioned their offense could do this summer at Camden Yards. How a power-laden lineup could quickly change the contours of an inning, a game and even a series."There's really no explanation for why April went the way it did," Danny Valencia said
BALTIMORE -- This is what the Orioles had envisioned their offense could do this summer at Camden Yards. How a power-laden lineup could quickly change the contours of an inning, a game and even a series.
"There's really no explanation for why April went the way it did," Danny Valencia said of the Orioles' offense, which spent most of the first month ranked last in the American League in runs scored and batting average.
"There's a lot of great hitters in here and we've done a great job of relieving each other, and I can't imagine our offense doing what it did in April the rest of the season. It was only a matter of time before it turned."
Baltimore belted a dozen homers in four games against the Rays, including four in Sunday's 19-hit series finale to take three of four and seal a second consecutive series win. The 17-1 victory -- which improves the Orioles to 5-2 on the homestand -- saw starter Dylan Bundy return to form, Valencia tie a career-high four hits and outfielder Joey Rickard look like Superman.
Rickard -- recalled before the game -- recorded the first multi-homer game of his career, driving in five runs against the team that drafted him. The O's Rule 5 Draft pick prior to the 2016 season, Rickard went deep off Rays lefty and former roommate Blake Snell to complete a pair of back-to-back homers with Valencia in the third. He struck again with a three-run shot on Andrew Kittredge's first-pitch fastball as part of a seven-run fourth inning.
"It's very rewarding," Rickard said, of getting his chance after waiting patiently in Triple-A. "It's part of it. Everybody goes through it. You just have to stay within yourself and go out there and not try to do too much."
Snell -- who also surrendered a second-inning homer to Trey Mancini -- exited one out into the fourth inning, as the Orioles rapped out six early hits. The 3 1/3-inning outing snapped his streak of six games going six or more innings and yielding two runs or fewer, which had been the longest streak by a Tampa Bay starter since 2011.
"Anytime you can take a little bit of the -- I don't want to say 'invincibility,' away from him, but I guess I just did -- maybe [it] puts him a little on his heels, because he's filthy," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, of getting to Snell early. "Guys really grinded the at-bats. It's one thing to make him throw strikes; it's another thing to give yourself a chance to hit. I think pitch count on him at such an early point was big, make him grind everything. He's a good one. Somebody will pay the price for that one next outing."
Just like the Orioles are making opponents pay now. Baltimore has scored 36 runs over its past four games, securing a winning homestand as they start to dig out of the early-season hole.
"You're starting to see some things, kind of like getting the band back together, somewhat," Showalter said of his club, which has been bolstered by the recent returns of Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo. "Not just the band, but getting … kind of the atmosphere we're used to back."
Bundy was the benefactor of all the offense, as he went seven scoreless innings and held the Rays to two hits with seven strikeouts en route to his second win of the season. The righty, who surrendered four home runs and did not record an out in his last outing, showed no signs of carryover in the 100-pitch gem.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
May isn't all gray: In a month in which he's struggled throughout his career, Bundy finally righted the ship with his first quality start since April 20. Bundy pitched around a pair of walks in the third and cruised after that, holding Tampa Bay to two hits.
"Mechanically, I did some things between starts to try to get better," Bundy said. "I've still got some work to do with the fastball command, but overall, I felt better with my secondary pitches and just attacking hitters."
HE SAID IT
"Dylan was crisper. There's more to it than I'm going to talk about here … but Dylan was rested, as he said. I would have been real surprised if he didn't have a good outing today. I would have been real surprised." -- Showalter, on Bundy bouncing back
Video: TB@BAL: Showalter on 17-run explosion against Rays
After enjoying an off-day on Monday, the Orioles will host the Phillies for a quick two-game set at Camden Yards. Righty Andrew Cashner will get the ball on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, after picking up his first win since April 5 in the series finale against the Royals. He tossed six innings and allowed three earned runs and will face a Phillies team that he has a career 2.55 ERA against. Nick Pivetta will start for Philadelphia.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.