BOSTON - The Orioles have lost eight one-run games in a row, the latest a 4-3 defeat to the Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park. Last season, they were 29-9 in one-run games.
So much has changed.
Manager Buck Showalter watched his club surrender a 3-1 lead, the Red Sox moving ahead on Mike Carp’s two-out bloop single in the bottom of the eighth. The ball barely eluded the glove of third baseman Manny Machado as he raced into shallow left field.
Boston tied the game in the seventh on Dustin Pedroia’s two-out, two-run single off Darren O’Day, the ball scooting into left field.
“It’s not necessarily one that got away,” Showalter said. “They just dumped one in over there and a ground ball that went in the hole. I thought we pitched pretty well. Bud (Norris) bent, but didn’t break. Some walks got his pitch count up a little, but you’ve got to grind against this club, especially in this ballpark. They hit some line drives at people, too, so we were fortunate there. We had a lot of good things. We just needed a couple more runs.”
Norris became the latest Orioles starter to make an early exit. He lasted only 5 1/3 innings, though he held the Red Sox to one run, with four walks and seven strikeouts.
“I think we underestimate how hard it is to pitch 5 1/3 innings on the road in the American League East this time of the year, so I’m going to take it as a positive,” Showalter said. “He pitched well for us, gave us a chance to win. We had a rested bullpen and we didn’t get it done.
“It’s a grind trying to get through there. He walked some people, but got back on track and made some good pitches, big pitches. He gave us a good chance to win tonight and I’m proud of him. A tough environment and he handled it well.”
Norris said his start “wasn’t the prettiest by any means.”
“I definitely had to labor out there for a little bit,” he said. “It took a while for me to get comfortable, for sure. I’ve been working on some things mechanically down there in the bullpen, definitely looking at on video. Something I’ve been tweaking. But at the same token, I want to go out there and compete and give my team a chance to win. I thought I gave us a chance tonight. It was just a tough way to lose for us, so we’ve got to get back out here tonight and hopefully pick up a win.”
Norris threw 105 pitches, forcing him out of the game earlier than desired.
“Yeah, unfortunately,” he said. “Sometimes, you look into it, sometimes you don’t. Tonight, it definitely affected me a little. I would have liked to stay out there because I felt pretty good, but those guys work counts, a lot of full counts. A couple walks definitely hurt me, too. But that being said, it’s something to work on and get better for next time.
“I wanted to pitch as deep as I could in the game. These guys scored some runs early to give me a little cushion, so my focus is putting up a zero on the scoreboard every half-inning. So, as long as I could go ... and Buck made a decision and I’m OK with it. Hand the ball off to the bullpen. I feel confident doing that every time. I just want to go out there and give this team the best chance I can.”
Norris had to calm his nerves as he took the mound.
“It’s an unbelievable environment,” he said. “That’s what you play the games for, for games like this. Being in a pennant race down the stretch. I was a little overwhelmed at first, trying to control my emotions and everything. I thought I did a good job with that. I felt great out there the whole time. Just trying to get comfortable on the mound and all the rest is something very important.”
This is an extremely important road trip for the Orioles, and they’re off to an 0-2 start.
“It’s tough,” Norris said. “Last night was definitely not the way we wanted it to go and tonight was obviously very close and tough. Battled hard. That’s a good club over there. Once again, you tip your cap to them. But we didn’t get the bounce tonight. It’s something, that’s just the way baseball is. That’s the way the ball bounces. But at the same token, we’re not going to hang our heads. We’re going to come back out tomorrow and leave it on the field.”
The Orioles have no shot at winning a sixth consecutive series at Fenway Park.
“We don’t dwell on what happened then and that means this and this means you win X-number of games,” Showalter said. “I know that’s fodder for conversation and whatever, but we just don’t ... tomorrow’s another day, a chance to feel good about us going forward. We came close tonight and it’s frustrating for our guys because I thought they deserved to win that game.”