Actor Chuck Norris probably would have been proud of Bud Norris‘ pitching effort last night. For the record, I’m guessing there’s no relation. I just thought I’d throw that in there for the shock effect; Walker Texas Ranger of course was from Texas, and Bud Norris came to the Baltimore Orioles from Houston last year. You get the idea. Nevertheless, Norris’ line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R (1 earned) 2 BB, 8 K. After Sunday’s game, the Birds needed Norris to go deep tonight; and nabbing the first two outs in the seventh inning was definitely deep enough.
Norris was the beneficiary of having the lead before he even walked out onto the field to throw a pitch. Nick Markakis led off the game with his usual single, and after Steve Pearce struck out against Anaheim starter Matt Shoemaker the O’s had Adam Jones come to the plate. At the time, little did we – or Jones – know that he would single-handedly have the entire team jump on his back. Jones ran the count to 2-0, before smacking a “no-doubter” home run to left field to give the O’s a 2-0 lead.
Anaheim put their lead off runner on with a single in the last of the first, and Mike Trout proceeded to reach on a very tough error by J.J. Hardy. Bud Norris appeared to induce a tailor-made 6-4-3 double-play, however Jonathan Schoop appeared to have the Los Angeles/Orange County sun get in his eyes which prevented him from fielding the ball. As MASN’s Gary Thorne said at the time, that’s about as tough of an error that Hardy’s going to ever have to take. Josh Hamilton proceeded to single to right field, scoring the (unearned) run from second base.
Throughout the course of his outing, Norris did allow his share of base runners. Granted he only walked two batters, but he allowed eight hits. However he always managed to pitch out of jams, even in cases when he yielded runs such as the aforementioned Hardy error. Hank Conger‘s RBI-single in the fourth inning tied the game at two, however even in a case where he yielded the Orioles’ lead Norris was able to minimize the damage.
However the fact is that this was the Baltimore Orioles’ night. Perhaps more poignantly, it was
Adam Jones’ night. Jones came up again with two outs in the sixth and Nick Markakis on second base following an earlier double. Jones rose to the occasion once again, sending another deep shot to left field and into the seats to give the Birds a 4-2 lead.
Perhaps one of the more unsung aspects of last night’s game was the fact that the Oriole bullpen seemed to return to it’s first half form. Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton combined to pitch 2.1 innings, striking out three and not allowing a base runner. The bullpen of course has had somewhat of an inauspicious start to the second half of the season with the blown save on Friday night, and then Sunday’s game. However like Jones they rose to the occasion last night and picked the team up when it was needed.
Obviously naysayers will point out that the Orioles still can’t seem to win without the long ball. While they do need to manufacture runs in other manners, you also have to look at each game from the perspective of a win’s a win. The Orioles will have to once again make a roster move prior to this evening’s game in order to recall Miguel Gonzalez to the big leagues to make the start. He’ll be opposed by Hector Santiago.