by Stu Matthews, Angels Nation managing editor
Big right-hander Dylan Bundy is still rolling along toward a multi-game Cactus League “shutout.”
Bundy is living up to his billing as the Angels’ de facto No. 1 starting pitcher, the team’s workhorse, the guy who — if in a hypothetical dream world, the Angels had a playoff series beginning tomorrow, he’d be starting Game One.
In December 2019, then-Angels GM Billy Eppler acquired Bundy from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for four lower-level prospects, a deal derided as nothing-for-nothing by some pundits.
Today, Dylan Bundy is the Angels’ staff ace.
If tomorrow was Angels’ Opening Day, manager Joe Maddon almost certainly would hand the ginger-headed Oklahoman to take the ball.
But on Sunday, Bundy shone by shutting down the host Chicago Cubs in a Cactus League pitching-fest in which the Halos and Cubbies combined for just 10 hits and two runs.
Bundy and a refreshed Ty Buttrey kept the Cubs off the scoreboard until the bottom of the seventh, when an error by Angel first baseman Phil Gosselin opened the door for Chicago to score off Angels closer Raisel Iglesias on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo.
But Angels right fielder Brennon Lund drove in the tying run for the Angels in the top of the ninth, pulling a line-drive triple off the base of the wall in right-center to cash in Anaheim native Jose Rojas, who had walked.
It was a tie that felt like a bit of a win.
The ‘Brief Breakdown’:
Pitching: Bundy faced the minimum of 14 hitters in his 4.2-inning start. added onto the two scoreless innings he pitched in his Cactus League debut, Bundy will take a 6.2-inning “shutout” into his next start in about a week’s time.
“The Number One thing is health — how the body feels, and I feel great,” Bundy said after the game. “Today, I was happy to be getting early contact, get those outs quickly.”
Bundy had been only expected to throw four innings Sunday, but he even carried on after coming out of the game and threw another 15 pitches in the bullpen. “Being able to go out there and pitch five times was huge for me,” he said. “If all of us can do that, we’ll be a better ballclub.”
Maddon never thought what he saw from Bundy in 2020 was a fluke.
“Everything looked really good,” Maddon said. “He pitches with confidence. That’s what we saw last year.”
Batters: Albert Pujols drew a canny walk and lashed an opposite-field single for yet another hit this spring. The 41-year-old “Machine” is batting like his spot on the Opening Day roster depends upon it.
Pujols is 7-for-16 this spring. If Pujols indeed intends to retire following this season, the last one on his Angels’ contract, maybe he’s planning to go out with a lot of fireworks.
Talking points: After watching Cubs shortstop Javy Baez take away a hit from Max Stassi the Angels in the fourth with a dazzling play up the middle, Angels shortstop Jose Iglesias said “Hold my beer, Javy!” took his turn in the field and turned in this lovely bit of glovework to nail Ian Happ:
lol José Iglesias pic.twitter.com/LLSa3OkTgN
— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) March 14, 2021
Top prospect Jo Adell participated in light workouts Sunday after he suffered a bruised knee while crashing hard into the outfield fence Saturday while chasing after Adam Eaton’s double. Maddon said Adell is “sore” and the outfielder will be day to day.
Left-hander Andrew Heaney, the longest-tenured Angels pitcher, surpassed a count of 60 pitches on the back fields in Tempe as the Halo hurlers log their innings to get ready over the next two-plus weeks.
Shohei Ohtani, who leads all Angels pitchers with nine strikeouts this spring, will make his next start on March 21 against the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium.
On Monday: Alex Cobb (1-0, 2.25 ERA) takes the mound for the Angels as they host the Cincinnati Reds, whose starter will be “two-way player” Michael Lorenzen (0-2, 13.50), at Tempe Diablo Stadium.