Well, that escalated quickly.
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez retired the Astros in order on only five pitches in the top of the first inning. He gave up four runs on two doubles, a single and a home run while throwing 24 pitches in the second.
Catcher Jason Castro led off the inning with a double, but Gonzalez retired the next two batters on pop ups. Brandon Barnes doubled in a run, Matt Dominguez grounded a single up the middle to score a run and No. 9 hitter Robbie Grossman belted his first major league home run.
LJ Hoes must be thinking, “It’s nice to finally be on a winner.”
Hoes flied to center field in his first at-bat with his new team.
“It’s a great move for LJ,” said manager Buck Showalter. “If he’s as good a player as he is a person, they got a gem. He’s good people. His mom and dad did a great job with him. He’s a quality guy. And I’m real happy that he’s going a place where he’s going to get the same opportunity at least that he would have gotten here. I’m not going to put words in their mouth. They maybe have other plans with him. I don’t know.”
Their plan tonight included starting Hoes in right field.
Showalter talked earlier today about the trade that brought Bud Norris to the Orioles.
“The big factor was that Bud was under control for two more years,” he said. “We don’t know what’s going to shake out when the year’s over. That’s a big factor for us, is that he’s got a chance to be with us for an extended period of time, under control. That’s what made his attractive to a lot of clubs that we were competing against. And trust me, we were competing against some clubs. So it’s real proud that our system has grown to the point where we can do it basically from within our system to acquire a player that we’re in need of. “The only thing that stings is a couple of local kids, too.
“(Norris) is competitive, a strike-thrower. He has a nice approach. I lean a lot more on people that have seen him pitch a lot. I can’t tell you other than him pitching against us. Got a pretty good look at him. I remember saying to myself at the time that this guy might be available at the deadline, to kind of bear down. You’re trying to manage a game, you’re also trying to scout a little bit. Who knows?
“There’s a lot of guys 28, in that area that start figuring it out. He’s been healthy, and he competes. I like the fact that he gets after it. He’ll have some challenges ahead of him, but he’s not the only guy that’s got to do well for us to be more competitive.”
Is Norris considered a good makeup guy, a character guy who will blend in smoothly with the rest of the Orioles?
“We’ve done some homework on it,” Showalter said. “One of the advantages of having good people, there’s nothing stronger than peer pressure. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. When someone starts telling me about a player that we just got in spring training, sixth-year free agent, I always give him a hand and say, ‘You know what, just hold on. I want to find out. Let me see.’ Perceptions and realities. I’m not saying this of Bud, just all players, are completely different a lot of times. Once you get to know them, you get them in your environment and in your culture. We don’t have a corner on it.
“What usually drives that culture to be good is winning games. Our job as coaches and managers is to manage people, human beings. We’ll take on about anything, but I don’t think Bud is going to have any... We’ll find out.”
It’s always unique when a player is traded to, or claimed by, the opposing team and only has to make the short walk to the other clubhouse.
“I’ve been involved in some pretty crazy ones,” Showalter said. “I don’t call this crazy. It’s just that the location is such. If they’d have been in San Diego, we’d have done the same thing. I kind of wish that we could have floated (Norris) for a day or two. You’re allowed an extra day to get players. I don’t think we can tell MLB that we’ve got to wait a day for him to get here. Unless we got a slow golf cart that breaks down.
“So, yeah I’ve been in wacky ones. Especially in the expansion draft. Weren’t particularly legal, but we made them anyway.”
Asked if Jason Hammel’s injury made this trade more necessary, Showalter replied, “I’m not going to call it an injury as much as something that...injury is something that I think you’re down, surgery, that type of stuff. This is something we could have probably continued to try and pitch through. But the more we thought about it, this started after his last start. Some days his elbow felt better than others. He’s hoping that this 15 days cleans that up. So to say the Ham situation had something to do with it, somewhat, but not the driving force. We felt like Bud could help us. And we’ll figure out where everything fits.”
Is Showalter satisfied with where the team is at this stage of the season?
“I wouldn’t say satisfied,” he replied. “You know that word, what it means to us. We’re just trying to put ourselves in position to be competitive every night and not look back when the season’s over and wish I coulda, woulda, shoulda, whatever. I think our fans and our team deserve more. I know Dan (Duquette) feels the same way. And I know Peter (Angelos) does. These things don’t get done without Peter’s backing.”