In the thick of the pennant race this year, the O's made two moves to fortify their shaky, injury-prone starting pitching in July. Both acquisitions have fared pretty well overall, but none better than yesterday, Labor Day, with the Orioles in need of a win in Cleveland to stay in the playoff hunt.
Stud of the Week for Aug. 25-Sept. 2:
The 28-year-old dominated in Monday's 7-2 win over the Indians, striking out eight in seven innings of work while allowing just four hits and one walk. In seven starts to since coming to Baltimore, Norris has posted a 4-1 record and has rebounded from his poorest outing with back-to-back strong starts against Boston and Cleveland.
With the O's leading 3-0 Monday, Cleveland, behind a base hit and a walk, had two runners on with two out in the bottom of the second and the tying run at the plate. But Norris, with a head's up play, picked Michael Brantley off second to end the inning and the threat. The O's offense could almost coast from there, but put up a few more runs anyhow.
Following mediocre July and August performances, the O's badly wanted to beat Cleveland on Labor Day after downing the Yankees in that series finale and string together two wins to start the crucial September drive. Norris responded by allowing just two baserunners over the first five innings.
Maybe the best thing about this midseason pick up is that Norris remains under O's control, contract-wise, through the 2015 season. With Chris Tillman's development into a true No. 1 starter, Norris should bolster the starting rotation for at least the next couple of years.