Good pitching is generally going to shut down good hitting. It’s somewhat of a cliche in baseball, but as is the case with many cliche’s it also very true. Unfortunately however, the Baltimore Orioles seem to keep running into some of this good pitching, as was the case last night. Detroit’s Rick Porcello, who was lifted after six innings, held the Orioles at bay for most of the game – much in the tradition of several other pitchers this season.
However the O’s also had a guy that was throwing some gas, in the form of Bud Norris. Granted Norris was the losing pitcher in the game, but he did more than pitch well enough to win. Norris’ line: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Norris was pretty spot on with his fastball command all night, although like Porcello he was undoubtedly helped by home plate umpire Jim Hoye’s large strike zone. But as I said, Porcello was aided by that also – although large, the strike zone was consistent all night.
The Orioles drew first blood in the last of the second when Steve Clevenger‘s RBI-double plated J.J. Hardy from first base. Clevenger had himself a game as they say, with three hits on the night for the Orioles. However other than Clevenger the Birds weren’t really able to put their bats into gear against Porcello. Miguel Cabrera‘s RBI-single would tie the game an inning later, and Austin Jackson‘s sac fly-RBI later in the inning gave Detroit a 2-1 lead.
Porcello was lifted after six innings due to a potential injury, however it was the eighth when things began to unravel for the O’s. First off an inning before that Clevenger led off with a double but was stranded on the base paths. However in the eighth Norris walked the lead off hitter (Alex Avila). Later in the inning Ian Kinsler hammered a shot into the left field seats to run Detroit’s lead to 4-1 – which was the final score.
Tori Hunter was the first batter faced by Norris after the homer, and he ended up being hit by
the first pitch. Hunter begrudgingly took his base, however yelled and gestured at Norris the entire way down the first base line – causing the benches to empty. Norris yelled back towards Hunter – and ultimately while no punches or even pushes were thrown, Norris ended up getting ejected.
While a HBP does certainly look bad after a homer, there’s also the impression on the flip side that Norris was tossed because of Tori Hunter raising heck. So now umpires are melding themselves into the business of judging intent, which allows for some interesting situations. My personal opinion is that Norris didn’t hit Hunter purposely, thus he shouldn’t have been ejected. It was only an issue because Hunter made it into an issue.
The Orioles will get a second crack at Detroit tonight, as the teams get set for game two of the series. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both benches being warned about shenanigans prior to the game; if they’re going to go to the extreme that they did with Norris last night, they might as well go the whole nine years. That aside, Ubaldo Jimenez will take to the mound for the Orioles tonight, and he’ll be opposed by Drew Smyly.