With a year of experience behind him and an additional pitch in his repertoire, Dylan Bundy appears poised to make the next step in his progression to big league ace.
Bundy struck out eight over seven impressive innings, and the Baltimore Orioles used home runs by Adam Jones and Chris Davis to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 Wednesday night.
Making his 15th career start, Bundy (1-0) allowed one run and four hits. The 2011 first-round draft pick did not issue a walk and retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
Bundy went 10-6 last year, his first full season in the big leagues. The 24-year-old is being counted on this season to build on that performance, and the right-hander certainly did not disappoint in his 2017 debut.
Because Bundy was coming off elbow and shoulder injuries, the Orioles had him put his slider on the shelf last year. It's back in play now and was a huge factor against the Blue Jays.
"The slider was a good pitch for me tonight," Bundy said. "There were more right-handers in the lineup tonight, so I was using that a little bit more. I was happy with it."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, "When you give them three different looks and they have to honor three different pitches - really four tonight - you like your chances."
Brad Brach pitched the eighth and Zach Britton got three outs to earn his first save and seal the two-game sweep. After Toronto loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, Britton got former Oriole Steve Pearce to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.
Jones hit a two-run drive in the third inning and Davis added a solo shot in the fourth. Both homers were off J.A. Happ, who went 20-4 last year - including 2-0 against the Orioles.
"The home run to Jones, I felt like I made my pitch. He kind of got his hands in there," Happ said. "And then, just trying to be aggressive, Davis got me on the first pitch."
Happ (0-1) struck out nine in seven innings. The left-hander gave up five hits and walked none.
"Overall, I was throwing a lot of strikes," Happ said. "That's a good sign."
Bundy retired the first seven batters before Toronto used three straight singles - the last by Devon Travis - to take a 1-0 lead in the third. With runners on the corners, Bundy struck out Josh Donaldson and retired Jose Bautista on a line drive to first base.
Jones connected with a runner on in the bottom half. It was his 223rd home run with Baltimore, tying him with Rafael Palmeiro for fifth place on the team list.
In a duel between two power-laden teams, the Orioles got the best of the Blue Jays.
"The key to the series is that they hit three home runs and we didn't hit any," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "They scored quick like that and we couldn't. But we'll be OK."
SEEING THE LIGHT
The Orioles unveiled their newly installed LED lights for the first night game of the season. In becoming the 12th major league team with LED lights, the Orioles say the new setup will reduce energy consumption by 54 percent compared to the previous system.
Toronto's Kevin Pillar slammed into the center field wall while pulling in a drive by Manny Machado to end the third inning. Pillar stayed on the ground briefly after making the catch before jogging back to the dugout with a nice applause from the Baltimore crowd.
Blue Jays: Closer Roberto Osuna (neck strain) is "feeling better" and is expected to spend the minimum time on the 10-day DL before being activated Tuesday, Gibbons said.
Orioles: Setup man Darren O'Day was ready for action after missing Monday's game with flu-like symptoms. "There's never a good time to get the flu, but opening day is not the best," he said Wednesday.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman takes the mound Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series in Tampa Bay. Toronto went 8-11 against the Rays last year.
Orioles: Following a day off, Baltimore begins a three-game series against the visiting Yankees on Friday night.