Since 2009, Bud Norris has been a fixture of the Astros rotation. He's started all but one of 119 major league games he's appeared in, going 34-46 in five seasons with a 4.33 career ERA. That includes 689 innings and 643 strikeouts with 281 walks and 85 home runs allowed.
As rumors swirl around Norris, let's look back at five of his most memorable moments in Houston.
1) His first start against the Cardinals
Norris got called up to the big league team in time to appear on July 29. He threw three innings in that game with four strikeouts, but the Astros lost 12-0 to the Cubs.
His next appearance was the first start of his career. It wasn't easy, as he was lining up against the St. Louis Cardinals under the Arch. In the words of Nuke Laloosh, Norris announced his presence with authority that day.
In seven shutout innings, Norris only gave up two hits and four walks while striking out five. He left after 91 pitches, turning the game over to Wesley Wright, Chris Sampson and Jose Valverde, who closed out the 2-0 victory with 1 2/3 innings in relief.
Norris struck out Skip Schumaker to lead off the bottom of the first inning and retired Albert Pujols (when he was the Best Hitter In Baseball) on a flyball to right field. He also Ked Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo and Joe Thurston.
His most memorable moment from that game might have been in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Norris gave up a single to Yadier Molina that put runners on first and third. He came back at that point to strike out Lugo and Thurston back to back, getting out of the jam and preserving the victory.
With that, a legend is formed.
2) The BudChuck phenomenon
That got fans hyped, but what he did in the next game against the Cardinals was just as impressive. After going through some rough starts in the middle of that 10 game stretch, Norris closed the season out with six shutout innings against the Cards on Sept. 23, striking out three while allowing six hits and two walks.
Thus began the #BudChuck meme, with Bud dominating the Cardinals so thoroughly and so regularly, he was compared to another Norris, complete with another fist underneath his beard. It was fun, but it was also done for a reason.
In 16 career starts against St. Louis, Bud has an ERA of 3.23 with 88 strikeouts in 100 innings. He went 8-6 over tht stretch
3) Starting Opening Day
After years of being the only young guy in Houston's rotation, Bud Norris finally got a chance to start on Opening Day this year and made the most of it. He went 5 2/3 innings against the Rangers, allowing five hits and two runs while walking three and striking out five. He also picked up a rare victory this year as Houston held on to win the game 8-2.
Norris became the 22nd pitcher to start on Opening Day for Houston and was the third straight first-time starter the Astros had, after Brett Myers in 2011 and Wandy Rodriguez in 2012.
4) May 1, 2011
Maybe Norris' best start as an Astro, Bud went 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers while allowing three hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts. He threw 116 pitches in the game as Houston won 5-0 and Norris improved to 2-1 on the season.
Norris struck out five of the first seven hitters he faced, striking out the side around a walk in the top of the first. He had at least two Ks in each of the first three innings and in six of the eight innings he threw total. He struck out four different Brewers twice and all eight non-pitchers in the lineup at least once. He held Ryan Braun to an 0 for 3 day with a walk and a strikeout.
Norris had a Game Score of 81 for this one, tied for the highest Game Score of his career with...
5) September 26, 2012
The Cardinals are making a bee line for the playoffs again. They had won four in a row before that and eight of their last nine as they raced to a Wild Card berth.
Enter BudChuck once again.
Norris completely shut down the future NLCS finalist with another memorable start. He went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out seven. There were only three hits in the entire game by the Cards, as Houston won a 2-0 contest.
Norris faced the minimum through three before giving up a double to Jon Jay, but didn't allow another runner to reach second base until the eighth inning.
In short, it was a masterful performance.
What was your favorite Norris memory? Can you pin down one of the Cardinals games? Any that I missed here?