It was expected that the 2020 Angels would pack a powerful offense.
Veteran right-hander Dylan Bundy was expected to pitch quality innings. It wasn’t expected that Bundy would suddenly be one of the major leagues’ most dominant starting pitchers.
Bundy pitched seven scoreless innings Tuesday night in Anaheim, striking out 10, and the Angels backed him with four home runs to seal a series win with a 6-0 victory over the Oakland A’s at Angels Stadium.
The Angels improved to 7-11, are only a game out of second place in the American League west, and have a chance to sweep Oakland on Wednesday.
Anthony Rendon, Jason Castro, Brian Goodwin and David Fletcher all homered to give Bundy — acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for four minor leaguers in an off-season trade — all the offensive support he would need.
Bundy allowed only four hits and a walk and struck out 10 for the second straight start in improving to 3-1. He has an ERA of 1.57 and 35 strikeouts over 28.2 innings, which leads all major league pitchers.
Gerrit Cole, the Orange County native who the Angels pursued hard in free agency before signing with the New York Yankees, hasn’t been the AL’s best starting pitcher this season.
That’s been Bundy. Cole has a 3.22 ERA and 26 strikeouts and cost the Yankees $324 million over nine years. Bundy is being paid $5 million this year.
“It’s the real deal,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “The pitches are sharp, the swings are not good and the takes are bad.
“I don’t know the last time he’s pitched this well, it’s really interesting to watch. He’s set the bar very high.”
The key for Bundy has been a mixture of pitches at that attack all corners of the zone which such command that Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons compared Bundy to Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, and reducing the usage of his average fastball.
Against Oakland on Tuesday, Bundy threw only 23 fastballs, but featured 35 sliders, most with pinpoint command — as well as 19 changeups, nine curveballs and 17 sinkers.
He was never in trouble and left after throwing 103 pitches.
“It’s pretty good, as good as I can right now,” Bundy said. “The slider is a go-to always. I’m trying to make the other off-speed pitches just as good. So we’re learning, and trying to get better every day.”
The A’s had won nine straight coming into the series in Anaheim. But after a Mike Trout-fueled win in the series opener Monday, the Angels piled on the A’s with a five-run fourth inning against Oakland starter Mike Fiers.
Rendon, who had slumped to a .103 average coming off the recent road trip, led off the fourth with a solo homer. Rendon has homered in both games against Oakland since returning home.
“He’s still selective at the plate, and he’s not chasing,” Maddon said of Rendon. “But when they’re coming into his area now they’re going fair and hard — and that’s all a hitter can ask for. So I think he’s officially on the cusp of being very toasty.”
In the sixth, leadoff man and shortstop Fletcher hooked a line drive over the low fence in the left-field corner against A’s reliever Daniel Mengden, for his third homer this season.
Said Maddon: “It’s contagious. Just like the lack of hitting is, so is when you do actually start hitting the ball and start squaring them up. Up and down the lineup, the guys look really good at the plate.
“It’s a good feeling. We’ve already won the series, but you can’t be satisfied with that. You’ve got to come out tomorrow and really try to take that third game.”
Right-hander Griffin Canning takes the mound for the Angels in the series finale against Oakland’s most effective starter so far, righty Chris Bassitt.