First off, a big congratulations to Bud Norris with his first win as an Oriole. He was classy guy who worked his tail off in his time with Houston and many Astros fans seem to agree on hoping he does well with his first contender.
The win didn't come easy, though. Norris' struggles against lefties have been well-chronicled during this trade deadline week, and they showed again on Thursday night as Brett Wallace and Marc Krauss both hit home runs off the former Houston righty.
Wallace's huge bomb to right-center field on a fastball right down Broadway in the second inning made it 1-0, and Krauss' line-drive shot to right in the fourth made it 2-0. The Astros managed only two other hits (a Jason Castro double and L.J. Hoes first career knock) and two walks in Norris' six innings. And of course, Norris set a season-high for strikeouts because it's the Astros. Especially Chris Carter, who had three of the punchouts against Norris, as he looked helpless at the plate all series.
Norris' opposing starter Jordan Lyles threw his best game in his last four starts. His fastball had a ton of movement down and away on lefties, in on righties. Lyles didn't get much help from his defense, but once again, just couldn't find his way out of trouble.
The big error came in the fifth with one out when Jonathan Villar made his first career error on a one hop, potential double play ball. Villar compounded his mistake by not hustling to the ball, allowing Henry Urrutia to advance to third with the top of the Orioles lineup coming.
Credit to the Baltimore lefties in the lineup for adjusting to Lyles living on the outer part of the plate with his two-seam fastball. Nate McClouth went with the outside two-seamer and lined it softly into left for a RBI single, followed by a Manny Machado RBI single through the left side and a Nick Markakis sac fly to cap the Orioles three-run fifth inning.
But Baltimore was right back at it in the sixth with J.J. Hardy and Urrutia hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with one out. Sound familiar?
Also familiar was Brian Roberts lining an outside fastball into left field for a RBI base hit to make it 4-2. In all, Lyles allowed nine hits, all singles, five runs, three earned in his 5.2 innings.
Travis Blackley was warming in the pen, and may not have been ready as pitching coach Doug Brocail visited the mound before the Roberts' at-bat, but Lyles was left in a batter too long. Hindsight is always 20/20, but for the second time in this series an Astros starter was left in to give up a huge run. No trust in the bullpen, and rightfully so.
Blackley came in after the Roberts' hit and promptly allowed another McClouth RBI single before surrendering Chris Davis' 39th home run in the seventh.
L.J. Hoes also collected his first career RBI with a ground out that scored Robbie Grossman, who doubled earlier in the inning. It's been quite the return to the bigs so far for Grossman, finishing 6-for-9, with two doubles, a home run and two RBI in the three game set in Baltimore.
Speaking of recent Oklahoma City guys, Josh Zeid fired a scoreless inning in the eighth. His ERA is 0.00 in 1.2 innings so far as a Major League pitcher. Give him the closer job! Just kidding, but not really.
More good news! Jarred Cosart takes his 0.86 ERA to Minnesota tomorrow as Houston starts a weekend series with the Twins.