On an Easter Sunday where the sun shone brightly on one of baseball’s greatest cathedrals, Dylan Bundy was hoping the baseball gods would smile upon him in his fifth start of the young campaign.
His first four starts were far from a religious experience.
Despite being put in an early hole thanks to two unearned runs in the first inning, Bundy turned in his first quality start of the season, pitching six innings and allowing just two earned runs. More importantly, he allowed no home runs and walked only one batter, though he did hit Nelson Cruz in the third inning.
For the Twins, Kyle Gibson matched Bundy, throwing six innings of two-run ball while striking out six batters. It was by far and away his best start of the season as he entered the game with no decisions and a 7.36 ERA in three starts. The start would prove to be enough as the Twins bested to the Orioles, 4-3, before 11,018 loud Orioles fans in attendance, though it did get dicey for the Twins late in the game.
The game started inauspiciously as Twins leadoff hitter Jorge Polanco popped-up to left-centerfield, but managed to reach third base after left fielder Dwight Smith, Jr., appeared to lose the ball in the sun and had the routine fly ball carom off his glove for a three-base error.
The next batter, Willians Astudillo, doubled down the left field line to score Polanco, and then later scored on a single by C.J. Cron following strikeouts by Cruz and Eddie Rosario. Both runs were unearned, but the Orioles found themselves in a 2-0 hole before their first at-bat.
After Bundy allowed another run in the top of the third, the Orioles responded in the bottom half to get back in the game. Catcher Jesus Sucre led off the inning with a single and was replaced at first by Jonathan Villar on a fielder’s choice grounder to second. Trey Mancini followed with a single and both runners advanced on a wild pitch to put two O’s in scoring position with two outs for Smith.
Jumping ahead in the count 2-0, Smith turned around a 95 MPH fastball and laced a single into centerfield, scoring Villar and Mancini to make it a one-run game. Smith was stranded following Renato Nunez’s second strikeout of the game.
Bundy went on to allow one more run in the fourth inning, but settled down after that tough first inning to turn in his best start of the season.
Once the game was turned over to the bullpens, the scoring all but stopped as neither team scored in innings five through eight, but the Orioles did their best to make the game interesting, loading the bases in both the eighth and ninth innings, but only managing to score one run and coming up just short.
The eighth inning was a squandered opportunity for Baltimore, as they had runners on first and third with none out, second and third with one out, and the bases loaded with two outs, but came away with nothing.
Hanser Alberto led off the eighth with a single and went first-to-third on a base hit to right by Villar, prompting the Twins to remove reliever Trevor May in favor of Trevor Hildenberger. Trey Mancini then stepped to the plate and promptly struck out before Cedric Mullins came to bat after replacing an injured Dwight Smith, Jr. (right quad tightness) in the top of the seventh.
With the count 0-2, Villar stole second to put runners on second and third. Mullins then grounded out, Renato Nunez walked, and Rio Ruiz grounded out the pitcher on a check swing to end the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth, Joey Rickard reached first base after being hit by a pitch to start the frame. Chris Davis would line out before Jesus Sucre reached on an infield single with an error allowing Rickard to reach third base. Alberto struck out, and then Villar ripped a double down the left field line for his third hit of the ballgame, scoring Rickard and advancing the pinch runner Richie Martin to third.
An intentional walk to Mancini brought pinch hitter Pedro Severino to the plate with the bases loaded. Severino got ahead in the count 3-0, and the fourth pitch of the at-bat was a ball outside that was called a strike by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson. Severino swung at the next pitch and flew out to right field to end the rally and the game.
The sweep at the hands of the Twins dropped the Orioles to 8-15, and 1-9 at home. The Orioles welcome in the Chicago White Sox for a three game series on Monday, while the Twins travel to Houston to take on the Astros.
* After combining to hit 17 home runs in their double-header on Saturday, neither team hit one in the contest on Sunday. It was just the second time all season that Orioles pitchers haven’t allowed a home run, and the first Orioles game where neither team homered.
* Bundy fell to 0-4 in his career vs. Minnesota.
* Smith, Jr. has hit safely in 17 of his 20 starts and extended his hitting streak to six games. He is second to Renato Nunez on the team with 15 RBI.
* Mancini’s 17 games with at least one run scored this season ties him for the most in the team’s first 23 games in franchise history (Nick Markakis, 2009).
*Sucre’s two hits gave him his third multi-hit game of the year, and his .370 career average vs. Minnesota is highest against any opponent.
* Villar recorded his eighth multi-hit game of the season, good for second on the team, and stole his team-leading fifth and sixth bases of the season.