Baltimore Orioles fall as Bud Norris struggles


In general, solo home runs aren’t going to hurt a team. However when you give up three solo shots (plus a two-run homer) it turns into a bit of a problem – as Bud Norris and the Baltimore Orioles found out last night. Norris’ line: 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K. The silver lining perhaps is that Norris lasted six innings and perhaps saved the bullpen a bit, although the counterpoint to that would be that the game got more and more out of hand.

Having said that, the fact is that you can’t win them all. Most people understand that, yet there’s always angst about a loss. In this case, it’s becoming more and more evident that Norris isn’t the same pitcher that won 15 games last season. It’s tough to say why that might be, however it is in fact the case.

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Phillies release 10-year veteran right-hander Bud Norris
Phillies release 10-year veteran right-hander Bud Norris /

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  • In fairness, it’s tough to win when you only score one run. Texas hit the deck almost from the beginning, taking advantage of the fact that Norris didn’t have it. Mitch Moreland hit what was originally a single (with the runner thrown out at second base) in the second inning, however that became a home run due to instant replay. (And it was the right call). Carlos Corporan added another solo shot in the third, and the O’s trailed 2-0.

    Norris struggled to throw strike one last night, which meant he was consistantly pitching from behind in the count. While some pitchers can get away with that, it makes things a lot tougher. Texas blew the game wide open in the fourth inning when Moreland hit his second homer of the game, this one of the two-run variety.

    Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    After Texas took a 5-0 lead following Shin-Soo Choo‘s solo homer in the fifth, the O’s finally broke through. Adam Jones‘ RBI-single cut the lead to 5-1, and it appeared that the Birds were going to mount a rally. However that would be the only run they would net in that sequence, and in the seventh inning Texas’ Joey Gallo would add a three-RBI triple to close out the scoring in Texas’ 8-1 victory. 

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    Here’s an interesting point, that probably means nothing; both teams got increasingly frustrated with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck’s strike zone. In fact, it seemed to fluctuate pitch-by-pitch. Norris appeared out of his element a few times, however Texas starter Wandy Rodriguez nearly jumped out of his shoes in the fifth inning when a borderline pitch to Nolan Reimold was called ball four.

    My personal opinion at the time was that the wheels were about to come off of Rodriguez, and that the O’s had an opportunity to pounce on a guy that was having trouble controling himself. However he pitched out of it. By kind of letting it all hang out on the mound, did he inadvertently do himself a favor? Instead, Norris was fairly composed (as compared to Rodriguez) on the mound – did that make him more nervous in a sense?

    The strike zone didn’t lose this game for the Orioles, although it certainly didn’t help. In fact, Hirschbeck didn’t really do himself any favors; in the aforementioned moment in the fifth inning he actually came out from behind home plate to confront Rodriguez. Granted Rodriguez was showing displeasure with the zone (which isn’t supposed to happen in theory), however umpires are’t supposed to do that.

    So the question now is what do the O’s do with Bud Norris? They very well might be nearing the point where they can’t keep him in the starting rotation. There’s always a group of people who will argue that they should just cut him. That would mean designating him for assignment; keep in mind that if they do that, he’ll end up being picked up by another team and the O’s will be paying him to play for someone else. So let’s wipe that option off the table.

    However we know that the O’s will make a roster move prior to Thursday’s game in order to bring Kevin Gausman up to make the start. The rumor is that he might be optioned back down right away, however I would submit that the time is right for Gausman to come to Baltimore on a semi-permenant basis. The O’s obviously might have to option or DFA a position player (and yes, risk losing him), however they’re going to have to do that anyway. Norris could then slide into a bullpen slot moving forward. That’s of course contingent on Norris not being injured and heading to the DL.

    The series with Texas continues tonight as Miguel Gonzalez heads to the mound for the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Texas’ Colby Lewis. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Playing with off the field fire?

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