Orioles manager Brandon Hyde called Dylan Bundy "unpredictable" after his latest outing.
The skipper meant that in a positive way; he was happy with Bundy's command and mix of pitches.
Bundy also threw a season-high five-plus innings after lasting just 3.2 innings during each of his previous two starts. However, some of the same problems that have plagued his career resurfaced.
Bundy tied a career-high by allowing four home runs during an 8-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics April 11. Last season, Bundy led all major league pitchers by allowing 41 home runs. Bundy has allowed six homers in three starts this season, tied with five other pitchers for the most in the majors.
Still, Hyde has seen the right-hander make some strides.
"I thought this was Dylan's best start," Hyde said April 11. "I thought he had really good stuff. Two good breaking balls, a really good changeup. He had more hop on his fastball. Pitch count was low. We were down three runs, and he pitched into the sixth inning. Right away, two homers knocked him out of the game.
"But I thought from the stuff standpoint, it was the best I've seen him all year. I thought his changeup was really good. He kept guys off-balance. It was just a few mistakes. They didn't hit singles. They went deep."
Bundy also saw some positives against the Athletics and acknowledged he needs to make some adjustments, mainly not throwing balls down the middle of the plate and getting ahead of hitters.
"For the most part, I'd say the first three innings were good stuff," Bundy said. "The slider, split, heater, they were all great. Then fourth and fifth, kind of got a little sloppy there in the sixth. My stuff flattened out and wasn't staying on top of the pitches. Four bad pitches and six runs."
Overall, most of the Orioles' pitchers have struggled with home runs. The team went 1-6 on their first homestand against the New York Yankees and Athletics, allowing 28 home runs during those seven games.
The Orioles lead the entire league by allowing 37 home runs so far this season, well ahead of second-place Boston, which has allowed 26.
"I haven't seen this many [homers] in a short amount of time," Hyde said. "But yeah, I think we just continue to stay behind our guys. We continue to improve and try to get better. Continue to pitch to a plan and work on our location. Work on being unpredictable."
Hyde is hoping Bundy can build on his latest performance. The rest of the staff also has to trend in that direction.
"He had four pitches he could throw at any time for strikes, which was fantastic," Hyde said. "He just left a few balls in the wrong spot. So I'm taking it as a positive."
Orioles Turn To Norfolk For Early Reinforcements
The Orioles have already been forced to make several moves because of injuries. Pitchers Alex Cobb (lumbar strain), Nate Karns (right forearm strain) and Richard Bleier (left shoulder tendinitis) have been forced to the injured list.
The Orioles also optioned lefty Josh Rogers back to the minors after he allowed four runs and five hits during 3.2 innings in a 10-3 loss to Oakland April 10.
As a result, the team promoted pitchers Evan Phillips, Tanner Scott and Josh Lucas from Triple-A Norfolk.
Lucas had a solid spring training and had thrown two scoreless innings with two strikeouts for the Tides. He entered the game April 11 against the Athletics and allowed one run and one hit during two innings.
Lucas pitched for Triple-A Nashville, a minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers, last year. He went 0-2 with a 2.56 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, and batters hit .207 against him. He signed with the Orioles as a minor league free agent in late November.
"I was happy with my mechanics," he said of his progress throughout spring training. "That was the big thing this year. Trying to get back to what I was doing successfully a couple of years ago."
Scott had a chance to make the major league roster out of spring training, but the club decided he needed more time to work on his command. He allowed eight runs and nine hits with six walks in nine innings this year. Scott allowed two hits and recorded a strikeout April 11.
"I think Tanner Scott's got back-end, elite stuff and got a chance to be really good from what I saw in spring," Hyde said. "I know his issue is sometimes he can lapse in command, but I'll take a chance on a guy with big-time ability that's got major league, back-end stuff and let's try to develop him, so I'm excited he's here."
Phillips, who hails from Salisbury, Md., could also be a boost to the bullpen. He was dominant throughout spring training, tossing 9.2 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. Phillips also threw 1.2 scoreless innings for Norfolk April 5 before being promoted.
He allowed one hit during three scoreless innings with four strikeouts and a walk against Oakland April 9.
"My confidence level is higher," Phillips said. "I came up last year and was trying to get a feel for the major leagues and I definitely learned a lot of things. Coming to spring training with refined mechanics and mentality, I felt I was much more polished."
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