Bud Norris Solves Lefties In Orioles' Win In Cleveland

Posted on September 02, 2013

When the Orioles acquired Bud Norris just before the July 31 trade deadline, they championed him as a veteran bulldog, a pitcher who could win big games in September.

On Sept. 2, he did just that.

Norris pitched a gem in Cleveland, helping the Birds to a 7-2 win during the opener of a three-game series against the Indians. Norris worked seven strong innings -- his longest outing as an Oriole -- and limited the Indians to one run and four hits.

Most impressively, Norris accomplished the feat against an Indians lineup that was specifically designed to crush him. Indians manager Terry Francona stacked the Cleveland order with eight left-handed swingers (including switch-hitters). Francona undoubtedly knew that lefties have hit Norris hard in 2013. Left-handed hitters are batting .302/.370/.496/.866 against Norris this year, compared with a .241/.307/.318/.624 line for right-handers. Additionally, 15 of the 16 home runs Norris has allowed this year have been hit by lefties.

The 242-point OPS difference is something of an anomaly for Norris. During his five-year career, although Norris has had more success against righties than lefties (.704 OPS to .803), the difference hasn't been nearly as severe as it has been in 2013. For whatever reason, Norris has struggled more than usual against lefties this year.

Until Sept. 2, that is. The Indians' parade of lefty swingers went 4-for-24 against Norris (and their lone righty swinger, Drew Stubbs, was 0-for-2). Norris pounded the strike zone early and often, tying his Orioles career high with eight strikeouts and walking one. The victory improved him to 4-1 as an Oriole and was his 10th win of the season overall, marking his first career double-digit win total.

The Orioles' offense gave Norris early run support, catching a break when Indians ace Justin Masterson had to leave the game in the second inning with sore ribs. Francona ended up having to use seven relievers -- a few of whom had just come up from the minors -- and the Orioles' bats teed off with seven runs. Nate McLouth and Matt Wieters both homered -- which for Wieters was part of a 4-for-5 day -- and Brian Roberts drove in two from the leadoff spot.

On the down side, Nick Markakis' season-long struggles took another unusual turn. Not only was he 1-for-5 (including a popout with the bases loaded in the eighth), but he actually took away a hit from his own teammate, McLouth. In the second, McLouth ripped a shot to the wall for extra bases, but Markakis -- the runner at first -- missed second base on his way to third and was called out on appeal. Because Markakis was out at second, the official scorer took away McLouth's double and credited him with a fielder's choice. Markakis definitely owes McLouth a steak or something as penance.

The Orioles' second straight win pulled them within 2.5 games of Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot, pending the outcome of the Rays' Sept. 2 contest against the Angels.


The Orioles continued to supplement their roster, calling up left-handed pitcher Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk.

Britton has had two previous stints with the Orioles this year, making six starts and going 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA. At Norfolk, he pitched to a 4.27 ERA during 19 starts. Britton will pitch out of the bullpen for the Birds unless a spot opens up in the rotation.

The O's now have 28 players on their active roster, and more are likely on the way as Norfolk's season ended on a sour note Sept. 2. The Tides finished the season tied atop the standings with the Orioles' former affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, both with 77-67 records. But Rochester held the head-to-head tiebreaker against Norfolk, earning the Red Wings the division crown and eliminating the Tides.

Possible candidates to be called up to the Orioles include infielder Jonathan Schoop; outfielder Henry Urrutia; and pitchers Steve Johnson, Josh Stinson and Tsuyoshi Wada, all of whom are on the Birds' 40-man roster.

Posted Sept. 2, 2013 by Paul Folkemer

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