Birds get bold, add Norris for stretch run
BALTIMORE –- L.J. Hoes was walking out of Oriole Park with a big smile Wednesday night. His new team, the Houston Astros, had just administered the most lopsided defeat of the season to his old team.
About seven hours before, Hoes had been sitting in front of his locker, when he began checking his phone. Reports surfaced that he’d been traded, and he was.
The Orioles acquired Bud Norris, a pitcher they’d long had their eye on, and he’ll start on Thursday. Norris will try and help the Orioles forget their 11-0 loss to Houston before 25,265 disbelieving fans at Oriole Park.
Norris was supposed to pitch on Tuesday, but was scratched because of the impending deal. Erik Bedard, who was to pitch on Wednesday, was pulled as well, and in his place, rookie Brett Oberholtzer was given his first start.
He allowed just three singles in seven innings while the Astros pounded Miguel Gonzalez, who allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Gonzalez (8-5) had his second straight rough start. Six days before, he lasted 4 2/3 innings in Kansas City and allowed six runs on eight hits.
The Orioles (59-49) have lost six of eight and didn’t put up much of a fight.
“That was kind of baffling. Pretty safe to say that was our worst game of the year, just all-around. It was embarrassing, actually. I’m glad it’s over,” Nate McLouth said.
Houston (36-70) scored four runs in the second and five runs in the fourth, ending Gonzalez’s night. After completing at least six innings nine consecutive times, he’s now failed to finish five in his last two.
It was the first time in his career Gonzalez had dropped consecutive decisions in his 34 career starts.
“My bullpen was great, everything was down, and I thought I was going to go out there and do pretty well. The first inning was good, second inning I was just leaving the ball up, and it just carried on throughout the whole game. It was just a tough night for me overall. We really didn’t want that to happen,” Gonzalez said.
Robbie Grossman’s two-run home run, his first in the majors, was the highlight of the four-run second, and after J.J. Hardy booted a bases-loaded grounder in the fourth, Jason Castro hit a grand-slam homer.
“I was surprised. I thought he'd be a little better tonight. He wasn't. Breaking ball wasn't very crisp and command of his fastball was an issue for him most of the night. Very unlike Miguel. He'll be better next time out," manager Buck Showalter said.
Gonzalez gave up nine hits and though five of his nine runs were unearned, his line was dreadful. He got no help from his offense.
The Orioles have been shut out twice in the last three games and have scored just 19 runs in the last eight games.
“We haven't swung the bats real well as of late. Kind of collectively. You don't say that's just one of those things that's going to happen. You want to shorten it up and get back to what we're capable of. Tomorrow's an opportunity to do that," manager Buck Showalter said.
On Thursday, it will be Norris facing his old team.
“He had an extra day when he was supposed to pitch the first day, and he's had another extra day. He needs to get on the mound, he needs to get the ball in his hand. You have diminishing returns with starters when you give them too much rest. It's time. And our guys can always benefit. [Chris Tillman] had a couple elongated outings out of his own doing by pitching well. I don't want Bud to wait around that long," Showalter said.
In the seventh, the Astros extended the lead to 11-0 and in the eighth Showalter relieved Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Hardy.
“Our fans don’t deserve to see that—that type of performance. We’ll clean that up. We’ll have to get over that one quick,” McLouth said.
It was the worst shutout loss by the Orioles since they were drubbed 13-0 by Toronto on Aug. 31, 2011.
NOTES: Norris (6-9, 3.93) will start against the Astros’ Jordan Lyles (4-4, 5.92) on Thursday night. Chris Tillman moves back a day and opens the Seattle series on Friday night. Scott Feldman pitches on Saturday and Wei-Yin Chen on Sunday.
-Steve Pearce, who had been on a rehab assignment at Frederick, was activated from the disabled list and was the designated hitter. He was 2-for-3.
-The Orioles had never lost to Houston at home. They had won their first seven and it was their first defeat since the Astros joined the American League.
-Jairo Asencio cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk.