He's tried to throw on the side a few times, and soreness or stiffness in the shoulder kept him from making this rehab start for another week. Fitting that his latest action on the mound come in the same weekend where the Astros are once again playing a team from the AL East. But, I digress. How did Mr. Norris do?
In four innings of work, he gave up two hits and two walks while striking out five against the New Orleans Zephyrs. You might start writing this off as taking advantage of a weak hitting minor league club. That is, until you notice that the other Express pitcher to throw mutliple innings (Sergio Perez) gave up seven hits and the Zephyrs managed eight hits total off non-Norris starters.
I don't particularly like the two walks, but I have accepted that'll just be part of Norris' game. It should also be noted that Norris needed just 66 pitches to get through his four innings of work, which is more efficiency than he showed in most of his starts this season.
Norris cruised through his first two innings, getting three ground ball outs in the first and two strikeouts and another ground out in the second. In the third, he finally got through the lineup once, but that's when the trouble started. The first batter to hit the ball out of the infield was also the leadoff hitter in his second at-bat. The next batter hit a line drive double to left field. Norris got out of the jam by striking out the third hitter to end the third inning.
In the fourth, Norris induced a ground ball out from Mike Lamb before giving up a line drive single to right and then getting two fly ball outs. Hitters were able to pull the ball more effectively on Norris as the game went on, which suggests his fastball/slider combo may have been more hittable as they saw it.
I should also note that pitchers who have great stuff but trouble getting through a lineup two or three times usually end up in the bullpen. I'm still not convinced that's where Norris' future lies, but the evidence just keeps popping up.
One last thing: Norris' Game Score was a 61. That's pretty good and could have been better if he pitched deeper into the game. That also would have been his second-highest Game Score of the season, behind his two St. Louis starts, when he had a 63 and a 74.
Anyone see video of his start or go to the game? I'm wondering how he looked on the mound, if he seemed tired and that's why he was pulled or if he was on some sort of a pitch count. I'm assuming Norris will make two more starts before being brought off the disabled list. That means, he should be eligible to come back during the San Francisco series at Minute Maid Park in two weeks. How convenient.