BOSTON - There was more to talk about today other than the dugouts emptying in the seventh inning and Orioles starter Bud Norris wondering why Red Sox catcher David Ross took exception to an inside pitch.
Norris took the loss after being charged with four runs in 6 1/3 innings. The last two scored in the turbulent seventh.
“I think their gun’s a little high here, but still he was crisp,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He was good. He deserved a better fate. We just weren’t able to do a whole lot offensively.”
“I thought I threw the ball pretty well,” Norris said. “I gave my team an opportunity to go out there and beat these guys. They’ve got a good ballclub over there, too, so these are always going to be some close games. They’re the world champs and I just wanted to go out there and try to help my team win.”
“I think Bud threw the ball great,” said catcher Matt Wieters. “He located well. One ball that actually wasn’t a bad pitch to (Brock) Holt, he put a good swing on it and it cost us the game.”
The Orioles issued their first replay challenge - on a close call, not to Ross - and they won it. Nelson Cruz was ruled safe at first base in the sixth on an infield hit that scored Adam Jones and tied the game 2-2.
“We’ve had about 10 or 11 that (replay coordinator Adam Gladstone) has been right about, too,” Showalter said. “Just because you didn’t challenge doesn’t mean he’s been wrong. I asked Adam at the end, I go, ‘How did that feel?’ And he goes, ‘Real good.’ It’s a process that worked out for us.
“I was wondering whether they could place Chris (Davis) at third base. He was running on the pitch and he was around second base. You can’t challenge that, placing a runner.”
Jones scored on an infield hit because he was bold enough to steal third with two outs.
“Where they’re playing Chris on the shift really puts them in jeopardy,” Showalter said. “They’ve got to hit a third baseman on the dead run. It also opens up the whole side of the infield. It’s a risky play. You’d like to see it not as close as that, but as long as they’re going to still hold Adam at third base after he gets there, it still opens up the shortstop hole.
“Sometimes, you’re always waiting around on being overly cautious. I tell our guys all the time, ‘You see it, you feel it, you take it.’ The only problem I’m going to have is when you go back and wish you’d been a little more aggressive with something I felt.
“This is an art. You’re down on the field and you’ve got to trust your players with it.”
The Red Sox took the lead on Holt’s RBI triple in the seventh, and another run scored when Davis fielded Jonathan Herrera’s bunt and hesitated before flipping the ball to Wieters.
“It’s one of those do-or-die plays,” Davis said. “It’s the disadvantage of having a first baseman’s mitt. The ball just kinda got caught up in my glove. By the time I could get it out, it really didn’t matter. I went back and looked at it. He got a pretty good jump. Like I said, it was a do-or-die play.
“It happened so quickly that looking back, there are a couple things I wish I could have done differently. I thought of maybe trying to dive and tag him, but when I realized I wasn’t going to get there, I just flipped it to him. Tip your hat. He got the bunt down. That’s why he’s tough to defend.”
OK, I can’t let go of the altercation in the seventh. Here’s what a calmer Ross had to say about it:
“Just a couple of balls at my head, kind of rattled me a little bit, probably said some things I shouldn’t have said. It’s all good. Baseball stuff,” he said.
“I was telling (Wieters) where I was at, and he was telling me where he was at. I definitely don’t think it was on purpose. Just a natural reaction, three balls at my head. I probably shouldn’t have yelled at the pitcher.
“I think I’m sensitive to balls around my dome after having two concussions last year and missing two months. That may have been part of it, I think looking back. I’m usually not a guy who does that too often, but balls at my head ... plus it was tough to see late in the ballgame with the shadows. I think all that stuff, and trying to get down the bunt probably played into it. We’ll turn the page and get after them tomorrow and try to win.”
It’s a typical strategy to throw high at batters attempting to bunt.
“Maybe,” Ross said. “Some guys will throw it high. When I was in the National League, when pitchers were up, we wanted to do it high. Not so much position players in case they were swinging, but yeah, pitchers we were. If he knew I was bunting, he may have been trying to throw it up a little bit in the zone, get me to pop it up. That’s definitely a strategy. Again, I don’t think it was on purpose. I don’t.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell offered his take on the situation.
“There were three pitches that I think got away from Norris that ended up close to the head,” he said. “I think that’s where the location of pitches that close up and in is where it might draw some reaction, which obviously it did. I’m not surprised we’re going to support and have each other’s back on the fight. Nothing really escalated from it, but just a competitive moment.”