First things first; manager Buck Showalter said following last night’s game that starter Bud Norris is expected to be fine after being hit on the right forearm by a comebacker in the fifth inning. Norris was eventually lifted from the game and diagnosed with a forearm contusion and stayed in the game at first, however between innings Showalter decided to remove him. The O’s are also leaning towards sending RHP Miguel Gonzalez to the DL after he woke up with pain in his side and was sent to the hospital yesterday.
Norris didn’t have his true quality stuff last night, but he did pitch well enough to keep his team in the game and give them a chance to win. Norris’ line: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 5 K. It’s easy to say that he gave up two homers (both to Adrian Beltre) and thus is having trouble keeping the ball in the park, however that’s going to happen in a venue like Globe Life Park and against a hitter like Beltre.
It was a windy night in the Dallas area, and we saw the effects of that early on. Nelson Cruz reached second base on an infield pop fly that got caught up in the wind and eventually was dropped by SS Luis Sardinas. Adam Jones would drive in Cruz with an infield single off the pitcher’s glove, and the Baltimore Orioles were off to an early 1-0 lead. However again, this is Texas; Beltre would hit the first of his two aforementioned home runs in the last of the inning, tying the game at one.
We would see the wind whip into the game again in the third when Nick Markakis hit a home run that landed about ten rows back, and the O’s had the lead back. Adam Jones would drive home Manny Machado later in the inning, and Nelson Cruz (who reached on another error) would score on J.J. Hardy’s sac fly-RBI. Chris Davis would later join Cruz in the
“homecoming homer parade” in the top of the fifth with a solo shot, and the O’s led 5-1.
Beltre’s aforementioned three-run homer in the last of the fifth (following Norris being hit on the forearm) propelled Texas right back into the game, tying it at five. This was ultimately a back-and-forth affair, and one in which both teams seemed to constantly be battling back.I suppose the baseball term is a “grind-’em-out type of game.” If you’re an Orioles fan you had the sinking feeling that it was the type of game where the home team would end up winning due to their last at-bat.
With one out in the sixth the Baltimore Orioles had runners on first and second, and Buck Showalter called for a double-steal. David Lough was thrown out at third base, however catcher Caleb Joseph was obviously safe at second. Nick Markakis sent an RBI-single to left, and suddenly the Orioles had their lead back.
That 6-5 lead held up through the last of the ninth, when Buck Showalter summoned Zach Britton from the bullpen once again to close the game. Elvis Andrus started the inning by reaching on a single, however Shin Soo-Choo promptly grounded into a double play and suddenly there were two outs. Following another single (this one by Luis Sardinas), Michael Choice struck out to end the game.
A week ago the O’s would have lost this game. In fact they probably would have lost it 5-1 because the bats wouldn’t have been making contact with the ball. As I said at the time, all teams go through those types of periods. The good news for the Orioles is that it seems they’ve come out of that at this point. Granted playing in a park like the one in Texas helps, however sometimes that type of variable can be a catalyst.
Miguel Gonzalez was scheduled to start in the series finale tonight, however as I said above he might be headed to the DL. Buck Showalter said that a decision will probably be made on that this weekend at the latest. (And keep in mind that the Orioles can backdate the DL stint from his last start.) Kevin Gausman was removed from Norfolk’s lineup last night as a precaution in case the Orioles need to call him up to take Gonzalez’s turn in the rotation. (T.J. McFarland is also a candidate according to Showalter.)
Chris Tillman will end up drawing the start tonight, and on normal rest at that – due to Monday’s off day. He’ll be opposed by Texas’ Colby Lewis, who gave up six runs last Friday night in Washington.
Buy Texas Rangers tickets vs. the Orioles for the series finale.