Starter Bud Norris left yesterday’s game just prior to the top of the sixth with what was later diagnosed as a groin strain. After Norris had completed his warm up tosses, he called for Buck Showalter and head trainer Richie Bancells to come out. When they went back to the dugout, Norris went with them. The Orioles were looking for Norris to go deep into the game today, and he was poised to do just that. After the game Showalter said that he thought they “caught it” in time, however if Norris has to spend time on the DL you can bet that Kevin Gausman will be on his way back to Baltimore prior to next Friday.
Norris was in the middle of pitching a very good game. Norris’ line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. He seemed to not have his greatest stuff early on, but as time passed he seemed to get stronger. He attacked the strike zone with his fastball, and in general was able to make some great out pitches.
However the main theme of the game was the fact that the Orioles knocked four home run balls out of Yankee Stadium. There’s no doubt that the Birds use the long ball as the chief aspect of their offense. However it’s also something that seems to work for them. Adam Jones got things started early with a solo home run shot in the first inning to put Norris in the lead before he even threw a pitch. However Jones’ most key at-bat in the game was probably in the third when he led off by working the count full and taking a tough 3-2 pitch, drawing a walk. Nelson Cruz followed him to the plate, and muscled a pitch over the right field wall to put the Orioles ahead 3-0. That’s exactly how the Baltimore Orioles’ offense is supposed to work.
Mark Texeira would capitalize on the one mistake that Norris made yesterday in hitting a mammoth home run to center field, however that attested for New York’s only run of the game. Caleb Joseph would reach base on a Kelly Johnson error in the fifth, and while Joseph would eventually be erased (when Markakis hit into a fielders choice) the runner at first base obviously was not. Steve Pearce then came to bat and decided to join the home run parade by hitting one out to left field. It seems that we’ve seen opposing teams making the Orioles pay for
their mistakes over time – for once it was the Orioles playing the role of “fat cat” in terms of someone else having to pay for an error.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day aside from the win was that the Orioles’ fourth and final home run came off the bat of J.J. Hardy in the top of the eighth inning. It was Hardy’s first home run of the season, in a year when he’s undoubtedly hit-for-average (but his power has been down).
Tommy Hunter ended up closing the game by getting the final five outs and allowing one hit. For the record, the Orioles were not in a save situation with a 6-1 lead, which is why they didn’t bring in Zach Britton. (Nothing to do with the blown save Friday night.) So it now remains to be seen whether Bud Norris can mend himself over the course of the normal rest period for a starting pitcher, or if he’ll need a DL stint. The Orioles obviously are hoping for the former, and they’re helped by the fact that there’s an off day on Thursday so Buck Showalter could certainly reshuffle the rotation or even skip Norris if need be.
The series in New York culminates at 2 PM this afternoon with Chris Tillman taking to the mound. The Orioles will have the tough task of facing Masahiro Tanaka (with his 11-1 record and 1.99 ERA) this afternoon. However keep in mind that the O’s have been finding ways to win without putting too many runs on the board. If they can get a solid outing from Tillman today, they’ll have a chance to win.